Manilla (TeleSUR) – Filippino President Rodrigo Duterte, during a visit, declared that Marawi City was “liberated.”
The head of state was making his seventh trip to the city when he stated that the region was now free from ISIS-affiliated groups.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence that marks the beginning of rehabilitation,” the president said.
“My problem is the many wounded. I can guarantee you, I am telling you, no one will be left behind.” Duterte told soldiers gathered in Marawi.
However, Armed Forces of the Philippines, AFP, Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said the war in Marawi continues. “It will continue until armed elements are dealt with. But terrorists no longer have complete control,” adding that “a greater part of Marawi” has been freed and liberated.
On Monday, military officials reportedly killed Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, who are believed to have played significant roles in the siege, and rescued 17 hostages.
He further explained that “There are still a few more that are left, and a few more hostages that are still in the area that remains to be a battle area. The declaration of the president hopefully gives way to the entry and start of rehabilitation, reconstruction, and rebuilding of Marawi from the ashes.”
Local officials expect the number of casualties, more than a thousand people in the five-month war, to go up.
Padilla estimates that there are maybe about 30 immobile wounded soldiers and 20 additional hostages to be rescued.
The military carried out ground assaults with the aid of allies. The United States and Australia monitored the region with surveillance planes, while China contributed arms.
Duterte promised he will rebuild Marawi City.
Congress has already allocated funds, from the 2018 budget, for rebuilding the city.
This post was originally written for and published by TeleSUR English.