MANILA: The Philippine military’s offensive against the Daesh-backed Maute Group in Marawi is now in its final stages, according to a military spokesman.
The news came as is was revealed the US had increased its support for the Philippine’s counterterrorism efforts by providing the government with a the latest unmanned drone, the Grey Eagle, with which to take on terror groups operating in the country.
The battle for control of Marawi has been raging since May, after the terror group seized control of the city located on Mindanao Island.
As if to illustrate the gravity of the task facing local forces, the US recently also provided 1,000 gas masks and C2 filter canisters to the Philippine military. Which, according to the US embassy, the Philippine Navy requested in order to better prepare their sailors and marines to respond to chemical threats.
As the fighting entered its 116th day yesterday, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said that 845 people had died in the operation so far including 666 terrorists, 145 from the government’s side, and 45 civilians.
Speaking at a press briefing, Padilla said the military offensive in Marawi is now in its final stages, stressing that there will be no more negotiations with the Maute Group.
“As has been previously announced, we’re entering the last and final stages of our fight in Marawi,” Padilla said.
“That is being mentioned because the remaining areas where the rebels are holding-up are getting smaller and smaller by the day. And as we clear more buildings, we deny them the opportunity to retake additional facilities or installations where they can hide.
“There is no negotiations whatsoever. We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” he emphasized.
Padilla also said they have deliberately not been saying when exactly the crisis will end.
“As the days continue new challenges will come up. But we’re doing our best to expedite it.”
The remaining Maute elements are now concentrated in a just a small area in the city, where fortified buildings occupied by the militants are located.
The US Embassy in Manilla said the American government has provided the Philippines with more than $ 300 million over the past three years to establish better command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities for the AFP.
Recent deliveries also include a Raven tactical Unmanned Aeronautical System (UAS) and two Cessna-208B surveillance aircrafts along with other munitions and weapons to support the urgent defense and counterterrorism needs.