Philippine Troops Reclaim Marawi Districts

By Richel V. Umel, Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales
Marawi, Philippines

A Philippine soldier passes in front of Islamic State graffiti in Marawi’s Mapandi village, Sept. 14, 2017. (Richel V. Umel/BenarNews)


A soldier moves toward what remains of a door in a bombed-out building, Sept. 14, 2017. (Richel V. Umel/BenarNews)


A mirror captures reflections of troops moving through Marawi, Sept. 14, 2017. (Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews)


A soldier scans his surroundings in Marawi, Sept. 14, 2017. (Richel V. Umel/BenarNews)


A soldier surveys debris filling a room in Marawi, Sept. 14, 2017. (Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews)


Remains recovered from Marawi are seen at a funeral parlor in the southern Philippine City of Iligan, Sept. 13, 2017. Mark Navales/BenarNews)


After nearly four months of fighting, remnants of vehicles and buildings are all that remain in this Marawi neighborhood, Sept. 14, 2017. (Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews)


Philippine troops control a neighborhood that had been tagged with graffiti announcing “Islamic State of the World,” Sept. 14, 2017. (Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews)


A Philippine flag flies atop a ruined building in Marawi, Sept. 14, 2017. (Mark Navales/BenarNews)

As Philippine troops push deeper into territory previously staked out by militants linked to the Islamic State, they are encountering parts of Marawi that lie in ruins after nearly four months of fighting.

The battle began on May 23, when hundreds of militants led by Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, the acknowledged chief of the Islamic State in the region, seized parts of Marawi. Hapilon’s forces were backed by the Maute gang of militants, as well as foreign fighters from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, making the city the center of gravity for IS militancy in Asia.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana declared government troops were close to retaking Marawi, a once-picturesque city of 200,000. He said militants were cornered in two neighborhood blocks.

“There’s only little resistance left,” Lorenzana said.  “That’s why I’ve been told by ground commanders that the end is near.”


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