Marawi: Rodrigo Duterte declares Philippines city liberated of Islamic State influence

Posted October 18, 2017

Brawner said: "We are trying our best (to meet the military's self-imposed October 15 target), our troops are fighting hard".

"We were supposed to go to Marawi with the President but we were prevailed upon by the commanders on the ground to postpone our trip because they are going to conduct the assault today", Lorenzana told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

"They were able to get Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute".

The military said Monday Hapilon - on the U.S. "most wanted terrorists" list - was killed in a dawn offensive alongside Omarkhayam Maute, one of two brothers who with Hapilon plotted to take over the city.

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He said the 4ID is in close coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Mindanao Command for any intelligence update regarding the movement and presence of the remaining insurgents.

Gunfire rang out sporadically and explosions thudded as Philippine soldiers fought Tuesday to gain control of the last pocket of Marawi controlled by Islamic militants as President Rodrigo Duterte declared the southern city liberated from "terrorist influence".

Government forces are hunting down a Malaysian militant tipped to take over as head of the Islamic State (IS) group in Southeast Asia, after the killing of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the terrorist group's former leaders.

The two men offered millions of pesos in a desperate bid to flee the besieged area after the government refused to open negotiations with the group. "We may announce the termination of hostilities in the couple of days". More than 1,000 people have been killed, including about 800 militants. "So, it's huge money", the defense chief said.

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Another leader, Abdullah Maute, was reported by the army to have been killed in August, though no body was found to prove his death. The deaths of Hapilon and Maute signal the end of the militant groups, Ano said.

A Philippine military spokesman says troops are being careful in the intense fighting with militants in Marawi city because of concerns for the safety of the 50 to 100 hostages still being held by the Islamic State group-linked militants.

Despite Mr Duterte's declaration, the military said about 30 militants holding an estimated 20 hostages still remain in Marawi and military operations continue against them. He said "the Maute-IS have established very strong defensive positions", adding that the IS fighters were hiding in dugouts and basements of occupied buildings.

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