By Roy Ramos
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines
The United States on Monday praised Philippine troops for neutralizing two key leaders of the Marawi siege.
"We congratulate our partners in the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their reported success in killing two of the leaders behind the months-long clash in Marawi: Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute," said U.S. Embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina in a statement.
"The U.S. is proud to support the AFP’s counterterrorism efforts in Mindanao through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and other technical assistance," the statement added.
Hapilon was indicted in the U.S. for his involvement in the 2001 kidnapping of three Americans in the Philippines. He was included on Washington’s most wanted terrorist list with a $5 million bounty on his head.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year announced PHP10 million ($195,000) and PHP5 million ($97,000) bounties for Hapilon and Maute, respectively.
Hapilon and Maute’s bodies will be subjected to DNA testing which is necessary for the release of the bounties.
Duterte’s hostile stance towards the U.S. softened recently when he announced he "would rather be friendly" to Washington because the Americans have "redeemed themselves" and "have helped us a lot".
Washington had earlier donated PHP730 million ($14 million) to help rebuild war-torn Marawi City.
It also provided two brand new surveillance planes and other military equipment to assist Manila in its fight against terrorism.