As it loses in Syria and Iraq, ISIS establishes a new beachhead: the Philippines

At a crowded center for refugees fleeing the fighting that has ravaged this city, Merlinda Obedencio never lets her most valuable possession out of sight: a blue cellphone.

It is the only link she has to her husband and three of their six children being held by Islamic State-linked extremists.

Obedencio’s husband, Raul, and their children were captured by the local Maute extremist group during a siege that started May 23 and has left almost 600 dead.

Almost 400,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Marawi, a city on the southern island of Mindanao, according to the Philippine military. And like Obedencio, most face an uncertain future in a region turned upside down by extremist violence.

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