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Children fighting for IS in Philippines conflict: Army

11 Juillet 2017

They are part of the remaining 80 to 100 members of Maute group being run after by the military in Marawi City.

He said some of the extremists are teenagers recruited and trained to use guns when they were still children. "We continuously get disturbing narratives from (escaped residents) that children as well as hostages are being employed in the firefight", he said.

"As disturbing as it is, our troops are doing their best to avoid any casualty among these children that are being employed", he said.

Casualties among children and adult hostages forced to take up arms could not be ruled out, Padilla said.

"But they carry weapons and are involved in the fighting, then it is hard to do more", he added.

The government intends to initiate the early recovery efforts in Marawi, including the establishment of temporary resettlement area for the homeless residents, according to Armed Forces spokesman Brig.

Shortly after seizing Marawi gunmen took at least a dozen hostages, including a Catholic priest.

Padilla said the proposal is discriminatory against Filipino Muslims as people of other religion can also be terrorists.

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The army had previously claimed that civilians were forced by the jihadists to transport ammunition, cure them or even help them to plunder the houses.

Asked how the military would engage the child warriors, Padilla said soldiers, while allowed to take defensive action when their lives are at risk, would endeavor to rescue "a child or an individual who is being forced into the fight".

"We appeal for more help especially for those home-based displaced people who are not yet adequately served", he added.

More than 500 people have died in seven weeks of fighting, including 89 police officers and soldiers, 39 civilians and 379 jihadists, according to the latest government figures published on Monday.

Almost 400,000 civilians have fled their homes.

Daily airstrikes and artillery barrages against militant snipers who control tall buildings have turned Marawi's central business district into a ghost town.

"We continue to gain headway with our operations on the ground", he said.

Children fighting for IS in Philippines conflict: Army