Half of besieged Marawi, a city in the southern Philippines is now free of ISIL-aligned terrorists, according to the military and the local government.
Officials believe only a few militants are left in the city but they remain a threat. In the week-long battle against the militants, officials say 65 militants have been killed. Other deaths include 20 soldiers, and 19 civilians.
CGTN’s Barnaby Lo reports.
For over a week now, the military and Islamic extremists carrying the banner of ISIL have been battling for control of Marawi. But fighting has subsided, and the local government is taking this opportunity to empty whatever or whoever’s left of this southern Philippine city.
The local government said the entire west side of Marawi is now free and clear. Now local government workers are encouraging people who are still there to come out. They’re going to rescue them and they’re going to take them somewhere safe.
But some of those who’ve been left behind say they choose to stay.
Others are overjoyed to be rescued after days of fearing for their lives, especially those who were nowhere near government troops.
“We had to cross a river and then climb up to a bridge to escape. I didn’t think we’d survive. The terrorists were firing at us, and there were bombs dropping,” a Marawi resident said.
Many weren’t as fortunate. Bodies of civilians who were either killed by the terrorists or caught in crossfires have been recovered, but survivors said there’s more. The only consolation now, is that it appears there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
“We are optimistic that because of the trajectory and the movement of our government troops, that the resolution to this crisis will be sooner than possible,” said Zia Adiong, a regional government spokesperson.
Still, authorities aren’t taking any chances. Even away from Marawi, in nearby Iligan City, they’ve tightened security as some of the terrorists could blend in with locals, and wreak havoc elsewhere.