US lauds killing of terror leaders Omar Maute, Hapilon

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2017 10:00 AM | Updated as of Oct 17 2017 10:22 AM

MANILA - The United States on Tuesday congratulated the Philippine military for its "success" in killing two leaders of Islamic State-inspired fighters that laid siege in southern Philippines for roughly 5 months.

Since the conflict between state forces and terrorists in Marawi City broke out in May 23, US troops have been providing technical assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines battling the Maute group.

"We congratulate our partners in the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their reported success in killing two of the leaders behind the months-long clash in Marawi: Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute," US Embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina said in a statement.

"The US is proud to support the AFP’s counterterrorism efforts in Mindanao through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, and other technical assistance," said Koscina.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday confirmed that Maute and Hapilon have been killed, marking a major development in the months-long crisis that has reduced the predominantly Muslim city into ruins.

The US, the Philippines' strongest defense ally, delivered critical military equipment to the Philippines, including the handover of 2 surveillance planes and counter-terror weapons in July.

The US also earlier donated P730 million ($15 million) in humanitarian aid for relief and rehabilitation efforts in the war-torn city.

Washington and Manila are bound by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and two other agreements that allow US troops to have rotating presence in the country.