The months-long war in Marawi City is about to end soon as Philippine troops only have to clear just one last building where about 30 ramnants of the IS-linked Maute group are hiding, The Manila Times Online reported on Monday (Oct 23).
Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy commander of the Joint Task Group Ranao, said the fighting is confined to a single building were about 30 terrorists were holed up. He added that the wives of the terrorists have joined the fighting.
Earlier, government forces have cleared several villages occupied by the Maute terrorists. Military officials believed these women were taken hostage during the early months of the fighting.
“But they will have liability also and they will be charged also together with the Maute terrorists,” said Brawner.
Government forces last week rescued 20 hostages as they continued their mop-up operations against the Maute holdouts. The rescued hostages claimed the terrorists were no longer holding any hostages.
Colonel Brawner said that government forces would try to talk the remaining terrorists to surrender, to release the female fighters and child warriors inside, if there is any, promising that they would be treated humanely.
The bulk of the government forces have already left Marawi after five months of fighting – the longest urban warfare ever fought in the Philippines.
But six military battalions will remain in Marawi to assist in the rehabilitation programmes of the Department of National Defense and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank has pledged 5.225 million USD grant for needs assessment of Marawi’s rehabilitation.
Other international agencies such as the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank had also expressed interest to help the city.