ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines: Government forces have regained complete control of the city of Marawi and the clashes with the Islamic State-linked Maute group will soon come to an end, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Monday (May 29), according to Turkey''s Anadolu Agency (AA).
"Our forces are in complete control of the city, except for certain areas where they continue to hold. These are the subject of clearing operations that are continuously being conducted," Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla Jr. was quoted as saying by GMA News.
"We are in full control, meaning to say we can control who comes in and who comes out, who moves around and who doesn''t. And we''re trying to isolate all these pockets of resistance that have remained," Padilla added.
The spokesman said the military was seeking to "end this as soon as possible" although they did not have a timeline.
"Our ground commanders have assured that the end is almost there. So, we hope to get clear results," he said.
In an interview with Radio DZMM on Monday, another military spokesman Colonel Edgar Arevalo said after seven days of fighting, the casualties included 61 Maute militants, 20 government troops and 19 civilians.
Arevalo stressed that recovering the casualties was not the government''s priority as the military focused on the rescue of civilians and containing the terror threat.
Meanwhile, the city of Iligan, some 38 kilometres from Marawi, was placed on a lockdown on Monday amid reports that Maute rebels disguised as civilians had blended with the evacuees.
Colonel Alex Aduca, chief of the Army''s 4th Mechanised Infantry Battalion, said in a phone interview with Radio DZMM that the evacuees would be denied entry to Iligan and instead sent to "consolidation and processing areas" in Matungao and Tagoloan towns, where they would be given basic services.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire southern island of Mindanao under martial law on May 23 following clashes between government forces and the IS-linked Maute group in Marawi city.