The Philippines’ top military commanders on Saturday declared a total victory over the Maute fighters linked to ISIL (also known as ISIS) in Marawi City, as troops continued to push towards the few remaining positions still held by the fighters.
The declaration of victory was announced by General Danilo Pamonag, during a military ceremony in Marawi, where he said the operation began with clearing some 3,000 structures or buildings and “now, we have reached our objective.”
“I would like to say it’s already done. It’s a complete and total victory for the troops,” he said.
According to the government since May 23, the ISIL liked fighters have lost 897 men while the military and police casualties have reached 165. Months of heavy government air raids have displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians. The government said rebuilding the area could cost at least 50 billion Philippine pesos ($971m).
Despite the military’s declaration of victory, army commanders said they thought Marawi City siege will be over until the coming days.
The military said the fighters, who are holding three to four male captives, are still resisting in a small area. Soldiers are also searching for the three sons of Isnilon Hapilon, the slain leader of ISIL in Southeast Asia. It is believed any one of them has the potential to assume the leadership of ISIL in the country and continue the fight.
The Philippine government claimed that the Marawi foreigners instigated and led the rebellion in Marawi. Amin Bacu, a Malaysian, and Ibno Kayin, an Indonesian, were named as the leaders of the last remaining fighters still resisting.