Monday, June 26, 2017

Terrorist leadership in Marawi 'crumbling', says military

From ABS-CBN (Jun 26): Terrorist leadership in Marawi 'crumbling', says military

The terrorist leadership in the battle zone in Marawi City is already "crumbling" as the enemies continue to suffer from losses, the Philippine military said Monday.

Task Force Marawi spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said in a press briefing in the besieged city that victory for government troops is now "irreversible" as the local terrorist group Maute and their cohorts were running out of firepower and other resources.

Herrera said one manifestation of the military's imminent victory is the "crumbling of leadership" of the terrorists inside the conflict zone.

"We have validated reports there are leadership problems inside. They also lack ammunition," the spokesman said.

He said among the problems being encountered by the enemy force were the apparent willingness of some of the Islamist militants to abandon the battlefield as their defensive zone continues to get smaller due to advancing government troops.

He said the terrorists were also encountering problems due to lack of resources and a breakdown in communications.

"There is the issue of money, the issue of decision making. Some of them, especially those other groups, would like already to get away from the battle zone. Gusto na nilang lumayas (They want to leave). However, there are some troops who wanted to stay behind to hold their positions," he said.

Herrera said government troops continue to inch their way into areas in the city where the Islamist militants remain holed up. He said the military has already cleared 86 buildings previously held by the militants.

"We are, inch by inch, moving towards the center of gravity,” Herrera said. “These are the things that are affecting them in terms of morale. Mahina na sila.”

Herrera said the only the factors preventing government troops from fully liberating Marawi from the Islamist militants are the presence of planted bombs and other explosives in the battle zone, as well as the presence of trapped residents and hostages.

Meanwhile, the government said the military's 8-hour "humanitarian pause" on Sunday, which was declared in observance of the Islamic celebration of the Eid al-Fitr or the end of Ramadan, was “generally peaceful."

Herrera said 6 civilians, including a senior citizen, were rescued in the 8-hour mission which ran from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

A cadaver of a civilian killed by the terrorists was also recovered.


The Palace said on Monday at least 290 suspected terrorists have been killed since the clashes erupted a month ago. The government has lost 70 of its men while civilian fatalities remain at 27.

Herrera said among the latest additions to list of slain terrorists were two Middle Eastern men, whose cadavers were discovered during clearing operations over the weekend. He said an investigation was underway to identify the two.
The military expressed confidence that the crisis in Marawi City which began on May 23 was nearing its end, as the Maute group’s leader Omar was reportedly killed in one of the airstrikes about two weeks ago.

The military also reported earlier that senior Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon may have already slipped out of Marawi. Hapilon’s foiled arrest triggered the clashes in the predominantly Muslim city.

The emergence of groups pledging allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been considered as the biggest security problem to face the year-old Duterte administration.

The rise of pro-ISIS groups in the country has raised alarm in Washington and the Philippines’ neighbors in the region, which fear that the notorious terror group was seeking to establish a new front in Asia amid its successive losses in Iraq and Syria.

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