AFP chief to troops: Stay alive while clearing Marawi

MANILA-- A good military commander is often likened to a father to his men, often solicitious of their well-being or welfare.

And in the trade of taking life, in defense of one's country, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo AAo made one request to troops on clearing operations against the Maute Group remnants in Marawi City.

"Stay focused on your mission. Stay alive. Keep safe. It will not be too long before we accomplish your task. You can count on the support of your headquarters and the abiding prayers of our nation ," the AFP chief stressed.

He made this appeal as the military is now planning the operation which will decisively neutralized the remaining Maute Group terrorists who are reportedly pocketed in a less than one square-kilometer in Marawi's business district.

AAo visited troops fighting in the Marawi City front-lines to see for himself how soldiers there are faring and to discuss and check battle plans made by their commanders for the final push against the remaining terrorists.

"I went to Marawi. To the main battle area this time. I went here to inspire you. But were the ones who inspired me instead," the AFP chief stressed upon arrival in Manila late Wednesday.

"Seeing for myself but a glimpse of the hardships you endure, the innumerable perils you face daily, and the immeasurable sacrifices you selfishly offer, I can help but be awed by your valor, heroism, and patriotism," he added.

As of this posting, an estimated 502 Maute Group terrorists have been killed along with 114 government troops and 45 civilians.

Also seized were 592 firearms. Rescued were 1,723 civilians. An estimated 900 soldiers were also wounded in the bitter house-to-house fighting, the deadlist feature of urban warfare.

Sniping, use of improvised explosive devices and bombs are the cause of most the casualties sustained by government troops in the almost three month conflict.

Fighting in the area has been raging since May 23 when government forces made a botched attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS "emir" Isnilon Hapilon.

As this develops, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said AAo was given a comprehensive update on the situation in Marawi City.

"The presentation was very good, the AFP chief was very satisfied, his queries were properly addressed and explained to him with satisfaction," Arevalo stressed.

After the briefing, the AFP chief commended the troops for their bravery, especially those who have fallen in battle and those wounded in the fight and yet are raring to return to the front-lines to continue the clearing operations.

"They are part of history unfolding (troops participating in the Battle for Marawi) as not everyone can have an opportunity to (help in the ongoing fight against) terrorism (which is now a huge problem in the world)," Arevalo stressed.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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