BEIRUT LEBANON (10:01 A.M.) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte got a Muslim rebel group in the Philippines to join arms with the military in the struggle against the Islamic State (IS) and invited others to also accede to the Armed Force of the Philippines.
Duterte made a statement about his readiness to join forces against the surging IS presence during a speech to troops in Cebu city and said that he accepts a offer of Moror National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari. In consequence about 2500 rebel fighters will be integrated into the Philippine’s armed forces.
So far the battle for the city of Marawi against the Maute group, which recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, has cost the lifes of 30 civilians and 38 soldiers. Since the IS took control of Marawi’s city center on May 23 also a total of 122 IS militants has been killed according to the government.
This new development does not only bring more combattants into the field against the IS forces in Marawi, but could also help Duterte to mend relations with various Muslim insurgent groups in the country. In addition to accepting the MNLF’s offer he invited other groups most notably the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the biggest rebel faction in the Philippines and active in the Mindanao region, where as in neighboring regions martial law was declared in reaction to the IS offensive.
Duterte said: “I am offering even to MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). If you want to join us, you are also invited including the regulars of the NPA (New People’s Army) [… ,] just bring the guns, I will replace them with new ones, and you’ll be enlisted in the armed forces.”
Both MILF and the MNLF were initially founded with the aim to establish a caliphate and alleged the government of fostering the Christian faith and subversion against Muslims.