Posts Tagged ‘Indonesia’

Turkey to start first foreign aid distribution in Myanmar

September 5, 2017

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talks to media in Istanbul, Turkey September 1, 2017. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS Reuters

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey said it will start the first foreign deliveries of aid on Wednesday to northwestern Myanmar, where hundreds of people have been killed and nearly 125,000 have fled over the border to Bangladesh in the last 10 days.

A spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan, who has described the violence against Rohingya Muslims there as genocide, said the deliveries were approved after Erdogan spoke by phone with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday.

Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said 1,000 tonnes of food, clothes and medicine would be distributed by military helicopters.

He said Myanmar had given approval for officials from Turkey’s state aid agency TIKA to enter the country and deliver the assistance, in coordination with local authorities in Rakhine state.

Suu Kyi has faced increasing pressure from countries with Muslim populations to halt the violence against Rohingya Muslims which has prompted their flight to Bangladesh.

Reuters reporters saw hundreds more exhausted Rohingya arriving on boats near the Bangladeshi border village of Shamlapur on Tuesday, suggesting the exodus was far from over.

Erdogan told Suu Kyi that the violence against the Rohingya was violation of human rights and that the Muslim world was deeply concerned, Turkish presidential sources said.

Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi, in Dhaka to discuss aid for the fleeing Rohingya, met her Bangladeshi counterpart, Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, a day after urging Suu Kyi and Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing to halt the bloodshed.

The latest violence in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine state began on Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked dozens of police posts and an army base. The ensuing clashes and a military counter-offensive have killed hundreds.

Erdogan, with his roots in political Islam, has long strived to take a position of leadership among the world’s Muslim community. On Friday, he said it was Turkey’s moral responsibility to take a stand over the events in Myanmar.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to Bangladesh on Wednesday evening and hold meetings on Thursday, Turkish sources said.

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz, Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ezgi Erkoyun; writing by Dominic Evans; editing by Alexander Smith


Indonesia ready to help Bangladesh in dealing with Rohingya refugees

September 5, 2017

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FILE PHOTO: Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi adjust her earphone as her counterpart Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talks to media at Indonesia Foreign Ministry office in Jakarta, August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta Reuters

DHAKA (Reuters) – Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday the country is ready to ease the burden of Bangladesh in dealing with Rohingya Muslims fleeing from Myanmar, but the help is likely to be only humanitarian, not financial.

“We will continue to discus what sort of support Indonesia could make to ease the burden of Bangladesh government,” Marsudi told a news conference after she met with the Bangladeshi PM and her counterpart in Dhaka.

Myanmar has come under pressure from countries with large Muslim populations to stop violence against the Muslim Rohingya. At least 400 people were killed and nearly 125,000 fled to Bangladesh in the deadliest bout of violence targeting the minority group in decades.

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das, editing by Larry King)

Erdogan condemns abuses of Rohingya in call to Suu Kyi: presidency

September 5, 2017


© AFP/File | Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has come under fire over her perceived unwillingness to speak out against the treatment of the Rohingya or chastise the military

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday condemned escalating human rights violations targeting the Rohingya Muslim minority during a phone call with Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Turkish presidential sources said.The United Nations said 123,600 had crossed into Bangladesh in the past 11 days following an uptick in fighting between militants and Myanmar’s military in strife-torn western Rakhine state, which raised fears of a humanitarian disaster.

The latest violence, which began last October when a small Rohingya militant group ambushed border posts, is the worst Rakhine has witnessed in years, with Erdogan last week accusing Myanmar of “genocide” against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Erdogan has stepped up diplomacy and spoke on the phone with Muslim leaders during the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival, seeking ways to solve the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. He also spoke with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will visit Bangladesh on Wednesday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

In the phone call with Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner of Myanmar’s junta, Erdogan said growing human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims “deeply concerned” the entire world, sources from his office said.

Suu Kyi has come under fire over her perceived unwillingness to speak out against the treatment of the Rohingya or chastise the military.

Erdogan said Turkey “condemns terror and operations against innocent civilians”, adding that the developments in Myanmar had turned into a “serious humanitarian crisis which caused worry and resentment.”

The Turkish leader had previously said he would bring up the issue at the next UN General Assembly in New York later this month.

Guterres on Friday said he was “deeply concerned” by the situation in Myanmar and called for “restraint and calm to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe”.

The Rohingya are reviled in Myanmar, where the roughly one million-strong community are accused of being illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.


Turkey’s Erdogan Says Muslims Worried for Rohingya

September 5, 2017

BANGKOK — The Latest on violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the resulting flood of ethnic Rohingya refugees into neighboring Bangladesh (all times local):

10:30 a.m.

Turkish officials say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has discussed the violence affecting the Rohingya Muslim minority with Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and said the issue was causing deep concern globally and especially in the Muslim world.

Officials at Erdogan’s office in Ankara said Tuesday that the Turkish leader told Suu Kyi in a telephone call that disproportionate use of force against the minority group should be avoided, and maximum care should be taken to avoid harming civilians.

The officials also said Erdogan condemned terrorist attacks targeting civilians.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to Bangladesh on Wednesday to discuss the situation of Rohingya refugees there, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Cavusoglu would also visit a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, it said.


2 p.m.

The U.N. refugee agency says some 123,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar on Aug. 25.

UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan said Tuesday that the latest number is a result of aid workers conducting new, more accurate counts in both established and makeshift refugee camps.

On Monday, the agency had estimated 87,000 refugees had crossed the swampy border in the days since Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar police posts, prompting security forces to launch “clearance operations” in response.

Tan said “the numbers are very worrying. They are going up very quickly.” The older, established refugee camps for Rohingya have already reached capacity, and thousands were struggling to find shelter.


Myanmar’s Suu Kyi under pressure as almost 125,000 Rohingya flee violence

September 5, 2017

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FILE PHOTO: Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi gives a memorial speech for Aung Shwe, former chairman of National League for Democracy (NLD) party, during his funeral in Yangon, Myanmar August 17, 2017. RETUERS/Soe Zeya Tun

By Simon Lewis and Krishna N. Das

SHAMLAPUR, Bangladesh/DHAKA (Reuters) – Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has come under pressure from countries with large Muslim populations including Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan to halt violence against Rohingya Muslims after nearly 125,000 of them fled to Bangladesh.

Reuters reporters saw hundreds of exhausted Rohingyas arriving on boats near the village of Shamlapur in Bangladesh near the Myanmar border. The village, facing the Bay of Bengal, appears to have become the newest receiving point for the refugees after authorities cracked down on human traffickers in a different part of the Teknaf peninsula.

Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi was due in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, on Tuesday after meeting the Nobel peace laureate and army chief Min Aung Hlaing to urge that Myanmar halt the bloodshed.

“The security authorities need to immediately stop all forms of violence there and provide humanitarian assistance and development aid for the short and long term,” Retno said after her meetings in the Myanmar capital.

The latest violence in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine state began on Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked dozens of police posts and an army base. The ensuing clashes and a military counter-offensive have killed at least 400 people and triggered the exodus of villagers to Bangladesh.

The treatment of Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s roughly 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya is the biggest challenge facing Suu Kyi, who has been accused by Western critics of not speaking out for the minority that has long complained of persecution.

Myanmar says its security forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against “terrorists” responsible for a string of attacks on police posts and the army since last October.

Myanmar officials blamed Rohingya militants for the burning of homes and civilian deaths but rights monitors and Rohingya fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh say the Myanmar army is trying to force them out with a campaign of arson and killings.

“Indonesia is taking the lead, and ultimately there is a possibility of ASEAN countries joining in,” H.T. Imam, a political adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, told Reuters.

He was referring to the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations that groups both Myanmar and Indonesia.

“If we can keep the pressure on Myanmar from ASEAN, from India as well, that will be good.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins a visit to Myanmar later on Tuesday, during which he will meet top officials, including Suu Kyi.

“Modi is going there and our foreign secretary has already briefed the foreign secretary of India on this,” said Imam. “If the international conscience is awakened that would put pressure on Myanmar.”

Turkey called the violence against the Rohingya “genocide” and offered Bangladesh help with the refugee influx. Pakistan, home to a large Rohingya community, has expressed “deep anguish” and urged the world body, the Organization of Islamic Countries, to act.


New arrivals and residents in Shamlapur said hundreds of boats had arrived on Monday and Tuesday with several thousand people, after a crackdown on traffickers at an island about 50 km (31 miles) south.

Reuters reporters saw men, women, children and their belongings, even live chickens, disembark from one boat.

“We fled to a hill when the shooting started. The army set fire to houses,” said Salim Ullah, 28, a farmer from Myanmar’s village of Kyauk Pan Du, gripping a sack containing his few remaining belongings, as he gazed exhausted at the beach.

“We got on the boat at daybreak. I came with my mother, wife and two children. There were 40 people on a boat, including 25 women.”

The latest estimate of the numbers who have crossed the border into Bangladesh since Aug. 25, based on calculations by U.N. workers in the south Asian country, is 123,600.

That takes to about 210,000 the number of Rohingya who have sought refuge in Bangladesh since October, when Rohingya insurgents staged much smaller attacks on security posts, triggering a major Myanmar army counteroffensive and sending about 87,000 people fleeing into Bangladesh.

The new arrivals – many sick or wounded with burns or bullet wounds – have strained the resources of aid agencies and communities already helping hundreds of thousands of refugees from previous spasms of violence in Myanmar.

“One camp, Kutapalong, has reached full capacity,” said Vivian Tan, the regional spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

“Nayapara saw several hundred people arrive in one day. This is stretching resources. We are doing what we can, but will need to seek more resources.”

In Shamlapur, refugees said about 40 people were packed into the curved hulls of fishing vessels three meters (yards) long.

Fishermen were demanding payment of as much as 10,000 taka ($124) for each adult, with Rohingyas who could not pay being detained, the refugees said.

Bangladesh pulled 53 dead from the Naf River separating it from Myanmar, and from the sea. Many more were suspected to have died on the journey.

Social worker Shahid Ullah said he feared another deadly capsize was inevitable, given the monsoon season.

“If just one boat sinks, we will have 30 or 40 people dead.”

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Nurul Islam in COX’S BAZAR, Wa Lone in YANGON; Writing by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez)


Indonesia urged to initiate conflict resolution for Rohingya

September 4, 2017

By Nurul Fitri Ramadhani
The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, September 4, 2017 | 10:06 pm

Indonesia urged to initiate conflict resolution for Rohingya

Opposing rights violations: Supporters and sympathizers of the National Mandate Party’s (PAN) youth wing Barisan Muda PAN stage a rally to protest the state-sponsored persecution of the Rohingya people in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta on Sept.4. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

In response to the widespread persecution of Rohingya Muslim minority people in Rakhine state, Myanmar, the Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association (ICMI) has called on the Indonesian government to initiate a conflict resolution process for Myanmar in ASEAN.

“We hope Indonesia can be the initiator of a conflict resolution process among ASEAN countries to help the Rohingya people. ASEAN countries should not close their eyes to the rights violations against Rohingya Muslims,” ICMI secretary-general Mohammad Jafar Hafsah said on Monday.

He is of the opinion that most countries have tended to ignore or been slow to respond to the killing and persecution of the Muslim minority people in Myanmar.

(Read also: RI seeks peace in Rakhine)

Jafar expected that Indonesia, as the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, would take a decisive approach to help end the prolonged conflict.

The state sponsored violence has caused many Rohingya people to suffer serious human rights violations, including torture, rape and the destruction of religious property.

Rohingya Muslims have been forced to leave Myanmar and have been declared as stateless, however Myanmar’s neighboring countries have mostly refused to accept them as refugees.

Jafar urged other countries to accept the Rohingya refugees and not to ask the people to go back to Myanmar. “We really regret what has happened in Myanmar. This is clearly a human rights violation,” he said. (ebf)


After Political Storm, Indonesia President Faces Economic Clouds

September 4, 2017

JAKARTA — During the first months of this year, President Joko Widodo was an embattled leader grappling with Indonesia’s most serious political and religious tensions in two decades. Now, he has come through the storm looking stronger than ever.

His popularity is near record highs and, thanks to deft maneuvers against foes trying to exploit a blasphemy case against one of his allies, Widodo has stamped his authority on the ruling coalition, parliament and the security forces.

The quietly spoken former furniture salesman may have proved his political mettle, but his next challenge is an economy that refuses to respond to conventional policies to fire up growth. That could dent his re-election chances in 2019, especially with a budget that won’t stretch to lavish government spending.

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President Joko Widodo

Senior government officials worry that Widodo has been distracted by the battles with political opponents and taken his eye off the economy.

“We are suffering from bad policy right now … if we don’t fix it or we don’t regain the initiative I could easily see GDP growth going down, and is that a risk you want to take?” said one senior government official, who asked not to be identified.

According to a June survey, nearly 60 percent of people polled were satisfied with Widodo’s performance, almost an all-time high. But the poll also showed high expectations that he would deliver on promises to revive the lackluster economy.

“If he doesn’t perform on the economy, that would give ammunition to the opposition to challenge Jokowi in 2019,” said Djayadi Hanan of the Saiful Mujani Research Center, a Jakarta-based pollster, using the president’s nickname.


Indonesia’s GDP growth has shambled at around 5 percent for the past two years, too low to lift the country out of the middle-income trap, largely because domestic consumption – once the engine of the economy – and bank lending have been sluggish.

An unexpected cut in interest rates last month highlighted the struggle to lift growth despite government initiatives, including a tax amnesty program, an infrastructure drive, and a series of regulatory tweaks designed to make business easier.

The government has little fiscal room to breathe life into the economy: the budget deficit is already close to a legally mandated ceiling of 3 percent of GDP and parliament could impeach Widodo if he allowed the deficit to run past that limit.

David Sumual, chief economist at Indonesia’s Bank Central Asia, said a hike in electricity tariffs and slow disbursement of subsidies to farmers have weakened the purchasing power of middle- to lower-income households. Meanwhile, higher-income groups are worried that the government is pushing for aggressive tax reform that will leave them less well off.

“The problem now is confidence in the prospect of the economy. People don’t want to spend,” Sumual said.

In his state-of-the-nation address last month, Widodo pledged to tackle income inequality by cutting red tape and making land acquisition easier to accelerate infrastructure projects. And last week he urged his cabinet to focus on attracting investment to boost growth and create jobs.

But two officials who spoke to Reuters said they worried he was not matching his rhetoric with bold steps that need to be taken now for growth to be marching higher next year, when campaigning for the 2019 presidential election will begin.

On the to-do list remains finding a way to rein in the overbearing dominance of state-owned enterprises on the economy, which was singled out by the World Bank in July as something preventing private funds flowing in.

In addition, there is a need to speed up efforts to tackle a tortuous regulatory and licensing regime to lift investment, an area where Widodo said last week, during the launch of a new policy package, “there’s so much we have to improve, so much to fix”.


Just months ago, Widodo appeared to be fighting for his political survival as political opponents joined forces with radical Islamist groups to foment popular fury over alleged blasphemous comments made by Widodo’s ally Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the former Christian governor of Jakarta.

Amid massive protests in central Jakarta, there were rumors of treason plots and even a military takeover.

Beating the drum of Indonesia’s “unity in diversity” motto, Widodo embarked on a frenzy of public appearances at military barracks, the homes of both political rivals and allies, and at moderate Islamic boarding schools – all aimed at projecting an image of unity and control.

“He has been busy in the past six to eight months fighting back against destabilizing forces,” said Endy Bayuni, editor-in-chief of the most widely read English daily, the Jakarta Post.

“He’s showed that he is very much in control of the situation and has become even more mature as a politician.”

Widodo’s latest move to regain political authority took aim at hardline Islamist groups. By executive decree, he banned Hizb-ut Tahrir, a group that calls for Indonesia to be ruled by Islamic sharia law, saying its ambitions ran counter to the country’s secular ideology.

Such political dominance could provide Widodo with a false sense of security, the senior government official said.

“The dark side of the story is … the economy,” he said. “I think the biggest threat now, potentially – and it’s the flip side of the incredibly strong political position he is in – would be complacency.”

(Editing by Ed Davies and Alex Richardson)

South China Sea: China demands Indonesia drop new name for Natuna waters — “Indonesia complicated and expanded of the dispute.”

September 3, 2017
  • The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, September 3, 2017 | 03:51 pm

China demands Indonesia drop new name for Natuna watersIndonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo stands on deck of Indonesian Navy ship KRI Imam Bonjol after chairing a limited Cabinet meeting in Natuna Islands waters in the province of Riau Islands. (Kompas/.)

China has issued a demand for Indonesia to reverse its decision to rename the South China Sea (SCS) waters that lie within Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In July, the Indonesian government named the maritime region in question, which lies north of the Natuna Islands, the “North Natuna Sea.”

Channel News Asia reported that the Chinese Foreign Ministry sent an official note to the Indonesian Embassy in Beijing dated Aug. 25, expressing its opposition to the move.

In the letter, China said Indonesia’s move to change an “internationally accepted name” resulted in the “complication and expansion of the dispute, and affects peace and stability”.

“The China-Indonesian relationship is developing in a healthy and stable way, and the South China Sea dispute is progressing well,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. “Indonesia’s unilateral name-changing actions are not conducive to maintaining this excellent situation.”

China and Indonesia had overlapping maritime claims in the southwest of the South China Sea, Beijing said, adding that renaming the area would not change that fact.

Shortly after renaming of the area, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said Indonesia had every rights to make the decision.

“The North Natuna Sea falls within our territory, not within the South China Sea […] We have the right [to rename the waters], the North Natuna Sea is ours,” Susi said.


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Indonesia’s Deputy Minister for Maritime Affairs Arif Havas Oegroseno points at the location of North Natuna Sea on a new map of Indonesia during talks with reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Philippines President Duterte Says He Is Reaching Out to Indonesia and Malaysia To Create Counter-Terrorism Task Force

September 3, 2017

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FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wears a bulletproof vest and a helmet as he gives a pep talk to troops fighting the extremist Maute group in Marawi, Philippines August 24, 2017. Picture taken August 24, 2017. Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo Reuters

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will discuss with Indonesia and Malaysia the possibility of creating a task force to combat Islamic State-inspired militancy, he said on Sunday.

Duterte even expressed willingness to open the borders to Indonesian and Malaysian security forces hunting Islamist fighters. He plans to meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak on the matter.

“We have agreed that we will talk, the three of us. We are just waiting for the right time,” he told reporters.

Asked what could be discussed, he said: “In all probability, it will be a joint … task force. And I will open my borders to the Malaysian authorities and Indonesian authorities. They’ll be given access.”

Southeast Asian nations have agreed to use spy planes and drones to stem the movement of militants across their borders, as concerns rise over the growing clout of Islamic State in the region.

In June the three nations agreed to pool intelligence and tackle militant financing.

Last November, the Philippines agreed to allow Malaysia and Indonesia to carry out “hot pursuits” in its territorial waters to tackle kidnappings and piracy by Islamist Abu Sayyaf rebels.

Duterte indicated the meeting with Widodo and Najib could take place after the siege of Marawi city in southern Philippines involving militants loyal to Islamic State has been fully resolved.

More than 600 militants, 45 civilians and 136 soldiers and policemen have been killed in more than 100 days of fighting in Marawi. The military has expressed confidence the end is in sight for what has been its biggest security crisis in years.

Pockets of militants remain dug in in the ruins in Marawi, possibly together with their leader, Isnilon Hapilon, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

“Recent military assessments indicate that he is still very much in Marawi,” Abella said in a statement. “Our forces are hot on their heels and it will only be a matter of time before we get him.”

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Australia offers to train Philippine troops in IS fight

August 29, 2017


© AFP/File | Philippine Marines taking cover from sniper fire while on patrol at the frontline in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia Tuesday offered to help train the Philippines military to tackle Islamic militants terrorising parts of the country, calling the threat “deeply concerning”.Philippine forces have been besieging militants in the southern city of Marawi for almost 100 days. But the gunmen, flying the Islamic State group’s black flag, have defied military assaults including airstrikes and artillery barrages.

Australia, which has an extensive defence cooperation program with Manila, has already deployed two high-tech AP-3C Orion aircraft for surveillance, and is keen to provide further help.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she recently spoke to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who wanted to bolster resources for his armed forces.

“We would be ready to support the Philippines in the same way we are supporting Iraq in advising, assisting and training,” she said.

“We indicated what we have been doing in Iraq. I went through with the president in some detail the support we have given in Iraq, that does not include troops on the ground. That is advising and assisting.”

Australia is part of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, with 780 defence personnel based in the Middle East.

Bishop said it was “deeply concerning” for the entire Asian region that Islamic State had a presence in the southern Philippines, with the United States, Malaysia and Indonesia also offering support.

Duterte declared martial law across Mindanao island, home to 20 million people, on May 23 immediately after fighters flying the IS flag rampaged through Marawi.

Their assault on the city ignited an unprecedented urban war, which Duterte has warned is part of an IS campaign to establish a base in Mindanao.