The Philippines military said on Tuesday that Islamist militants hold 20 per cent of the Marawi City, disputing an earlier claim by the militant Islamic State (IS) group’s news agency Amaq that its “fighters are spread in more than two-thirds” of the southern town.
“On the contrary, out of 96 barangays (neighborhoods), they are holding portions in Marinaut, Lulut, Mapandi and Bongolo Commercial District, which only comprise 20pc of the whole Marawi City… and its getting smaller everyday,” Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, head of military command in the region, told Reuters.
Military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said on June 5 that the militants occupied less than 10pc of the city, which they had tried to overrun in an attack on May 23.
Philippine troops raise flag as bomb falls on Islamist_held city
Thousands of Philippine soldiers, advised by US Special Forces, are locked in fierce combat with hundreds of insurgents who overran Marawi city on May 23, flying black flags of the militant Islamic State (IS) group and using up to 2,000 civilians as human shields.
As gunfire rang out and planes flew bombing raids to pummel districts of the largely-abandoned city, a crowd of soldiers and officials gathered outside a nearby government building to raise the Philippine flag.
“This is dedicated to soldiers who offered their lives to implement our mission in Marawi city,” said Colonel Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of a Philippine Army brigade fighting in Marawi.
The annual ceremony marks the anniversary of an armed revolt against Spanish colonial rule.
Fighting in the city has left 58 soldiers and police and more than 20 civilians dead, the military said, estimating that almost 200 militants have been killed in the clashes.
Tens of thousands have fled Marawi, which is the Catholic country’s most important Muslim city, since troops unexpectedly interrupted plans by the fighters to take over Marawi in a spectacular event to show that IS had arrived in the Philippines.