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friendly-fire disaster in the ongoing fight against militants in the southern Philippines. The defense minister, on Thursday, announcing that a military air strike has killed at least 11 soldiers and caused several injuries. Just one day after support planes were brought in for surgical air strikes, two of them dropped bombs aiming for fighters in the heart of Marawi City.
One hit the target, the next hit the troops, taking the death toll to nearly 180 people in nine days of clashes with Muslim extremists linked to Islamic State. Reuters' Tom Allard is on the ground in Marawi.>> The battle's being conducted now in Marawi's city center, it's a very dense urban environment, close quarters combat.
The militants have occupied the city, have taken children and families as human shields. As a result they are using air power to try and knock out their snipers on the rooftops. There are 2,000 or more civilians still caught up in the center of Marawi, many of them have no food, they have no water, no electricity.
They're petrified and they're starving.>> The military says it's considering suspending air strikes, insisting the rebel forces can't hold on much longer. But the ISIS-linked Maute group has put up a serious fight with help from foreign militants in their ranks.>> These foreign fighters often bring battleground experience.
They often take up senior positions in the organization and we're seeing a very sophisticated operation here, relatively speaking. It causes a lot of alarm amongst counter terrorism officials and also reflects the close links these groups have with Islamic State, who they are receiving money from and some direction and guidance.
>> The defense minister says so far, eight foreign fighters have been identified among the militants that have been killed. Not only from nearby Malaysia and Indonesia but also Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Chechnya.