Gov’t forces still trying to clear remaining four barangays in Marawi
After more than 21 days, government forces are still in the process of clearing four barangays in Marawi City.
"For the significant developments for the conduct of combat clearing operation. The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) intensify combat clearing operations particularly on the portions of four barangays," Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesman of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, said in a televised press conference in Marawi City Saturday.
It has been more than three weeks since the military has initially announced only four out of the total of 96 barangays in the city were affected by the armed conflict.
As of Saturday, Herrera said the rebellion in Marawi City that has lasted for more six weeks has resulted in the death of 366 terrorists, 39 civilians and 87 government forces.
"We have established defensive positions for further offensive in terms of our action against the local terrorist group. Continuous sectoral clearing ( is) ongoing with the support of communities and local government unit," he said.
Herrera noted that the military still has to clear hundreds of buildings within the four barangays from the presence of around 80 terrorist members and improvised traps and bombs who are still occupying some portions of the affected areas.
"We are also strengthening the Lanao Lake defense through strong collaboration with the communities and LGU. We also intensify the remaining more or less 800 buildings particularly on removing improvised explosive device (IEDs), booby traps, fuel bank and specific buildings," he said.
Herrera said the Maute terrorist group has been reduced to “more or less around 80”. “They are still occupying vantage position as we move forwards to the center of the gravity. The local terrorist group are still occupying high rise building and we intent also to protect our soldiers who are relentlessly moving towards the center of gravity," he added.
Herrera said there are 300 civilians who are trapped within the four barangays that are affected by the battle between the government forces and terrorist group members.
In previous interviews, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is also the martial law administrator, said the military is trying to finish the armed conflict in Marawi City before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 24.