MANILA--- Filipino soldiers have made significant headway in clearing Marawi City of the remaining Maute Group remnants but fighting in urban terrain with an enemy well versed in the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), landmines and snipers has certainly posed significant challenges to the liberating military forces.
Adding to the difficulties is the presence of civilian hostages whom the terrorists have no qualms of using as human shields if they get cornered by troops, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said over the weekend.
"(Things) are difficult because of the urban terrain (which is the worst form of battlefield) and we are doing this (clearing operations) very carefully because we have compounding issues which are presence of hostages, residents who refused to leave their homes, continued discovery of IEDs (which necessitated) the door-to-door clearing operations being practice by our troops," Padilla stressed.
These factors have made combat in Marawi City very complicated, he said.
These same factors are also present in most Mideast engagements with ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorists and these contributed greatly to the length of time to neutralize them.
"In the case (in) the Battle of Mosul (in Iraq), it is still ongoing up to now, (having) started October 2016, and it not finished yet (despite) been going on for eight months. In Libya (which conducted operations against) ISIS/Daesh (terrorists) the battle started May 12 and ended only last Nov. 6, so it lasted over six months; in the Battle of Ramadi where American and Iraqi militaries combined to fight the ISIS terrorists, the operation started April and ended only in November 2006 and during the Second Battle of Fallujah (where the Iraqi, American and British forces combined) against Al-Qaeda terrorists, operations lasted Nov. 7 up to Dec. 23, 2004," he added.
Fighting in Marawi City erupted when military forces tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the "Emir" of ISIS in Southeast Asia, last May 23.
As of this posting, the death toll in the ongoing fighting is placed at 268 Maute Group terrorists, 66 soldiers and police officers and 26 civilians.
Source: Philippines News Agency