By Roy Ramos
Zamboanga City, Philippines
Philippines government troops believe the end is near for the clashes in Marawi City and expressed hope, Monday, that victory will be "in a few days".
Military spokesperson Edgar Arevalo reiterated that the fighting is contained within a 500 square meters grid with the remaining 50-60 militants intensively putting up their last stand against government troops.
“We continue to be vigilant because we know that they are on their so-called last stand,” Arevalo was quoted by ABS-CBN news as saying.
“They will surely look for any blunder. They have planted improvised explosive devices within the conflict area and will use hostages as human shields.”
Despite the intensity of the fight, troops have high morale following President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent visit.
More than 300 soldiers, wounded during the early days of the siege, are back on the frontline of the battle zone in their eagerness to “help their colleagues and take part to liberate the city”.
Arevalo also disclosed that testimonies from hostages who escaped their captors revealed that child warriors are fighting along with the terrorists.
“According to civilians who were held hostages, there are children, minors who are among the Maute ranks. The terrorists were able to convince them, have armed them and they are now fighting our soldiers.”
The Maute group was said to be actively recruiting minors, offering their parents to teach them Koran but later gave them firearms, taught them how to kill, and told them all Christians in the world must die. It was their specific duty is to also kill government troops.
The crisis in Marawi saw 772 deaths including 597 militants, 130 government
It has also created a massive humanitarian crisis, displacing nearly 400,000 people from the city and nearby towns.
The battle in Marawi prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place all of Mindanao under martial law on May 23, which is not set to lapse until the year’s end.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.