From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 3): ISIS chieftain Hapilon still fighting in Marawi City
After the Philippine military announced that local ISIS chieftain Isnilon Hapilon may have escaped government offensive in Marawi, now Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they have reports the elusive militant leader is still fighting in the besieged Islamic city.
“He is still inside Marawi. He is hiding inside one of the mosques in Marawi. I think this is maybe correct,” Lorenzana said, citing fresh intelligence reports.
Military propagandists took advantage of reports that Hapilon had fled telling journalists covering the fighting in Marawi that the ISIS chieftain abandoned his commanders in the middle of the battle and calling him a coward.
They also said that brother Omar and Maddie Maute, both ISIS commanders, had died in the battle, quoting intelligence reports, but the military failed to provide evidence that the duo was killed. And said that militant commanders are now fighting each other over how to divide their loot and that there is a crack in the ISIS leadership.
Both the military and ISIS have engaged in media propaganda since the fighting began on May 23 when militants occupied Marawi and tried, but failed to put up an Islamic State province in the city.
The military claimed over 330 militants had been killed in the battle, quoting reports from civilians and army commanders on the ground. But security officials could not provide an exact number of bodies of militants recovered by troops in Marawi, although it said at least 80 soldiers were slain in the war and that three dozen civilians had perished in the violence that gripped the capital of Lanao del Sur, one of 5 provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region.