On January 25, 2017, the Philippines conducted an airstrike in the southern portion of the country that killed 15 Islamic State militants and severely injured Isnilon Hapilon, a most wanted terrorist.. Seven other ISIS militants were injured during the airstrike.
One of the deceased individuals is believed to be from Indonesia. 11 of the dead militant bodies haven’t been recovered. The Philippines initiated the airstrike to help prevent terrorist groups from spreading to a new region.
Philippines Airstrike Killed 15 Islamic State Militants and Injured 7 as They Try Establishing a New Base
According to Gen. Eduardo Ano, Military Chief of Staff in the Philippines, one of the bodies recovered by troops is suspected to be an Indonesian militant. The other three were confirmed to be Filipino militants. The fighters were followers of Isnilon Hapilon, a Filipino who swore allegiance to terrorist organization ISIS in 2014.
Hapilon is one of the top terror suspects in Southeast Asia. Shortly after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, he established Dawlatul Islam Wilayatul Mashriq, an alliance consisting of at least 10 small militant groups. He was originally stationed at the ISIS stronghold in Basilan, an island province in the southern Philippines.
Hapilon was injured on the outskirts of Butig town in Lanao del Sur province after the Philippines air force dropped six 500-pound bombs on January 25 and January 26. He sustained an arm injury and was losing blood. The man’s followers carried him around on a stretcher attempting to find safety, but they failed to escape from Lanao because troops are blocking exit points.
Military Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano explained:
“We’re making it very difficult for them to move around and survive.”
More Background on Hapilon and the Philippine’s Future Plans
It is believed that the terrorist was supposed to develop an Islamic State branch in Southeast Asia. The U.S. Department of Justice has him listed as one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. They are offering up to $5 million for his capture.
Hapilon hasn’t been in Butig for long. He moved there about a month ago from his stronghold in Basilan, and 30 militants traveled with the known terrorist to look for a new base. ISIS group commanders allegedly wanted Hapilon to set up a base in Lanao because it provided more security than his base on Basilan. It would have served as a springboard to spread their influence in the Philippines.
The Philippines was given the FA50s they used in the airstrike from South Korea in 2015. This airstrike was the first time the Philippines used the fighter jets during a combat mission. They have received four FA50s and are set to acquire 12 more by July.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana pointed out this event
“is significant because it will derail their plan to expand the IS presence to mainland Mindanao.”
Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has acknowledged that the establishment of ISIS-influenced militant groups is a major national security threat. He has also instructed the military to destroy small extremist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf who engage in kidnappings, beheadings, and bombings.
The Philippines plans on continuing to go after ISIS without easing up. Col. Edgard Arevalo, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office Chief, declared:
“Our focused military operations backed by intelligence from the community and available wherewithals of the AFP will be unrelenting.”
They plan on completely eradicating the terrorist groups in Western Mindanao by the end of June 2017.
Summing It Up
The airstrike in Lanao is important because it disrupted terrorist plans to set up a new base in the region. An Islamic State militant leader who’s wanted in the U.S. for a $5 million reward was injured in the airstrike. His men haven’t been able to help him escape because the military blocked all exit points. Currently, the Philippines has 12 more fighter jets scheduled to arrive by July.
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