Palace: Marawi won't be an ISIS hub

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 20) — Malacañang on Tuesday said international terror group Islamic State (ISIS) will not succeed in making Marawi a stronghold in Southeast Asia.

"It's unlikely for Marawi to become a new hub for IS fighters. The Philippine military has already pre-empted the Maute group from establishing a wilayat or a province in Marawi," said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in a media briefing.

Malacañang's comment came after reports U.S. senators expressed concern over Marawi becoming an ISIS hub, saying the U.S. government should play a bigger role in the country's defense against the terrorists.

Abella, however, said the U.S.' role in combating terrorism has limits.

"The role of the U.S. in relation to the IS is to provide technical assistance, as prescribed by the Constitution and we will abide by that," he said.

Meanwhile, the Presidential spokesperson also gave an update on the Marawi crisis.

He said terrorists killed 26 civilians, while 1,637 others were rescued as of June 19.

Government forces killed rose to 65, while casualties on the enemy side is at 258. Government troops recovered 255 firearms from the terrorists.

Donations for families of soldiers killed in action reached ₱224,000, while those for evacuees ₱21,000.