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Inside this lakeside city dotted with hundreds of mosques, a powerful militant designated by Daesh (ISIS) as its leader in the Philippines has managed to unify a disparate group of gunmen under a single command.The army insists the drawn-out fight is not a true sign of the militants' strength, and that the military has held back to spare civilians' lives.Still, the fighters have turned out to be remarkably well-armed and resilient.Officials say the commander, Isnilon Hapilon, who is one of Washington's most-wanted militants, is still hiding somewhere in the city.Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert at Singapore's S. Rarajatnam School of International Studies, believes that Daesh and the smaller regional groups are working together to show their strength and declare a Philippine province of the caliphate that Daesh says it created in the Middle East.Hapilon is a preacher and former commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who pledged allegiance to Daesh in 2014 . He now heads an alliance of at least 10 smaller militant groups.
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