From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 8): Marawi battle nears end
The fighting in this embattled city is expected to be over soon as the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute and Abu-Sayyaf groups have been significantly reduced to at least 80 members as of Saturday, July 8, the military said.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is committed to ensure that Maute and Abu Sayyaf will not be able to pose a threat,” Herrera said, noting that the military will still continue to pound the enemy positions in the area.
On Saturday, several fighting planes, including the country’s newest jets, conducted bomb runs from dawn to noon.
Herrera said there are about 80 high-rise buildings that the military is trying to clear.
He said terrorist leader Abdullah Maute is “still in command” and “foreign terrorists are still there” in the area.
The death toll has been continually increasing since the armed conflict erupted on May 23. At least 366 terrorist have been killed, while government troopers suffered 87 casualties.
There are 39 civilians have also been executed by the Maute group.
On Friday, the military extracted four more civilians in the battle zone bringing the total number of rescued civilians to 1,022.
The rescue efforts are also being conducted by the Joint Coordination, Monitoring and Assistance Center of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front under the “Peace Corridor” initiative.
Herrera said the troops are now zeroing in the area where the terrorists are being holed up.
“We have established defensive positions against the Maute,” he said.
For his part, Zia Alonto-Adiong, the spokesperson of the Lanao del Sur crisis management committee, said measures are being drawn up for the massive rehabilitation of the besieged city.
“There is a need to provide soft financial packages for house loans and also to provide the needed capital for the local traders since the crisis have significantly affected the local economy of this city,” he said.
Adiong also bats to strengthen the teaching of moderate Islam to prevent individuals from the joining extremist group.
“There's a need to expand Mandaris system. Military approach will not end the problem, it has to be collective efforts from all sectors,” he said.
According to him, the local government is already in talks with several non-government organizations to help address the root cause of conflict.