U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday praised Filipino soldiers for defeating pro-Islamic State militants in a five-month battle in Marawi City, the southern Philippines and said there were no credible allegations of human rights violations. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday praised Filipino soldiers for defeating pro-Islamic State militants in a five-month battle in a southern Philippine city without allegations of human rights violations. The Philippines on Monday announced the end of combat operations in Marawi City after troops killed 42 remaining militants, including some foreign fighters. More than 1,100 people, including 165 troops, died in the conflict. "Here's an army that had to go in a fight like that, and they had not one human rights allegation against them with any credibility," Mattis told reporters at the end of the two-day ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting at a former U.S. air force base. "Not one, and when you look at how bloody awful that fight was, that's really a statement about the Philippine military that set a human rights condition in the midst of that fight the way they did so." Mattis' praise for the military was a rare appreciation as the Philippines' human rights record under President Rodrigo Duterte has been strongly criticized by Western countries, including the United States, Canada, European Union and Australia.