The Philippine military says only a few dozen rebel troops remain in the southern city of Marawi. The army has been fighting ISIL allied militants for nearly two months. President Rodrigo Duterte says the situation in Marawi remains critical, and he’s likely to extend martial law. Nearly 400-thousand people have been displaced by the crisis. CGTN’s Barnaby Lo takes us inside the war zone.
While military air assets drop bombs they fire mortars toward the enemies’ direction and shoot at them from afar. These are some of the men and women of the Philippine Armed Forces. They’re striking ISIL-allied militants holed up in Marawi since May 23rd from all sides, as ground troops move to retake the southern Philippine city.
“We provide mortar support, indirect fires to the troops who are directly engaged,” said Philippine Army Lt. Colonel Christopher Tampus.
Marawi’s downtown area is where much of the battle is being fought now. Government troops have the militants surrounded. We followed some of them to their positions, and found that every move carried with it the risk of getting fired at by enemy snipers. There are about three critical bridges here in Marawi. Together with Philippine troops, we cross one of them. We get into a residential area and enter a maze of houses that the militants once occupied. This is how the war is being waged — the military is going house to house, clearing the city from terrorists, one building at a time.
“A lot of lives were lost,” said Tampus. “We [suffered] a lot of wounded just to retake and push the Maute, the local terrorist group, across the river. This is how difficult [it was to retake] this position.”
We’re told that we’re only about 70-80 meters away from the enemies–that’s just a stone’s throw away. We can see them, they can see us. But, to protect the soldiers, we cannot reveal whatever and whoever we see on the other side. What is clear is that the havoc ISIL allies have wreaked now has the heart of Marawi in ruins.