Philippine troops were excited on Saturday when boxing star, Manny Pacquiao visited a southern city where soldiers have been battling pro-Islamic State militants for over two months.

Pacquiao, who is also a senator, was kitted in a military camouflage uniform, and said he will join the military in the city of Marawi to fight against the militants.

"You are the real heroes, not Manny Pacquiao. I am just a boxer but you give your lives for our country," he told soldiers in a camp in Marawi City.

"Hopefully, I can come back here and greet you again when the fighting is done and if it isn't finished when I come back, then I will be the one who will go over there," said Pacquiao, referring to a battleground outside the camp where gunshots and explosions could be heard.

The fighting in the Mindanao region has claimed 630 lives, including 471 militants, 45 civilians and 114 government troops, the military has said.

Pacquiao, who was made a lieutenant colonel in the military reserves in recognition of his boxing achievements, remains a hugely popular figure in the Philippines.

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