Philippine flag raised on Independence Day in war-torn city

The ongoing Marawi battle has already killed 138 militants and 58 government security force's personnel.

Three weeks after ISIS terrorists stormed and conquered the city of Marawi in the Southern Philippines, civilians who escaped from neighborhoods that have turned into battlefields tell of hardships, severe hunger and the lack of emergency medical services.

Perched on buildings, some connected by tunnels that gave them mobility, the snipers have made it hard for troops to wrest back areas under the rebels' control.

Rohan Gunaratna, head of Singapore's International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, told VICE News that by demonstrating they could capture and hold territory, the ISIS-affiliated militants were seeking to bolster their credentials as a fully-fledged province of the Islamic State.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said five civilians had been killed by terrorists in Marawi City.

The city was home to 200,000 residents.

The patrols in the waters between eastern Malaysia and the southern Philippines come as the three Southeast Asian countries have been stepping up their fight against such activities blamed on Islamic State-linked rebels based in the southern Philippines.

A video posted on the chat app Telegram by ISIS' Amaq news agency showed the militants executing six other men.

Despite having known of the threat, the country's top security officials-Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Council Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. -joined President Rodrigo Duterte on his official visit to Russian Federation which began on the same day of the attack.

WIDER PLOT Monday's Independence Day marks the 119th anniversary of the country's liberation from Spanish colonial rule at the close of the 19th century.

A Marine guards the display of high-powered firearms, ammunitions, uniforms and black ISIS-style flags which were recovered from Muslim militants Tuesday, May 30, 2017, in Marawi city. Mindanao has a significant Muslim population, though the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country. The assistance was reportedly made at the request of the Philippine government. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis sought to reassure allies in the region, highlighting U.S. efforts to improve information sharing and to train Philippine counterterrorism forces fighting in the south.

"The Indonesian foreign minister is proposing a meeting, a small conference, where we'll be able to talk about the situation and what we can do together with Malaysia". "Otherwise, it will place long-term regional security at risk and stunt regional economic dynamism".

The Philippines and the U.S. government signed a Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951, where both countries committed to help each other in times of external armed attack.

But with U.S. military assistance under way in Marawi, the harsh rhetoric has stopped.

The five attackers were killed.

In 2014, Duterte's predecessor, President Noynoy Aquino, strengthened the alliance with an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which allowed a limited and temporary United States military presence in the Philippines.