Military forces capture ISIS strongholds in Marawi City
MARAWI CITY – Government troops have captured several strongholds of local ISIS fighters in the war-torn city of Marawi and officials said security forces also recovered the cadaver of a foreign militant from one of the buildings occupied by the jihadist group.
Officials said soldiers managed to regain control of the strongholds on a village on the city’s center, including the Dansalan Collage previously held by the jihadist group. The college building was previously occupied by snipers and machine gunners, according to officials.
Troops also recovered a .50-caliber machine and over a dozen automatic weapons from the area as militants withdrew from the advancing military forces. The weapons added to over 400 already in the hands of the military.
“It will just be a matter of time and our soldiers will fully liberate Marawi from terrorists and criminal gangs who brought mayhem to this city. We owe this to our Maranao brothers and sisters. Our soldiers fully know what is at stake and we will strive together to neutralize these criminals in order to bring peace and normalcy in Marawi,” said Army Brigadier General Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of military forces battling ISIS.
Bautista said there have been a steady stream of trapped civilians being rescued by security forces from houses in the battle zone. He said over 1,700 civilians had been so far rescued by troops as government forces continue to gain ground and foothold on enemy strongholds.
But hundreds remain trapped in the city as the battle rages on for second month now since militants occupied Marawi in a failed bid to put up an Islamic State province in the restive region.
Over 200,000 people are in various evacuations centers in Lanao del Sur and Iligan City, according to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to which the province belongs.
But despite the fighting, the main campus of the Mindanao State University in Marawi has resumed operation, according to its president, Dr. Habib Macaayong, who said they have already raised the Philippine flag and are preparing for the opening of classes by August.
Macaayong said the military recommended the opening of the state-run university after security forces regained much of the city from militants. The university has about 17,000 students and is now being guarded by 300 security guards. (Moh Saaduddin and Rhoderick Beñez)
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