The United States should not have ended a special-operations task force in the southern Philippines three years ago in light of the weekslong jihadi siege of a city there, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday.
“In 2014, we canceled the named operation that we had down there, out of perhaps a premature view that we were gaining success,” Mattis testified before a Senate Armed Services subcommittee. “Without [the task force], we lost some of the funding lines that we would have been otherwise able to offer.
The city of Marawi on Mindanao Island has been under attack by Islamic State-linked militant groups for the past three weeks. Dozens of Filipino troops and civilians have been killed in the fighting.