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The Battle Of Marawi Is Over

October 18, 2017

Via Reuters.

On October 16 the Philippine military announced the deaths of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the two terrorist leaders responsible for the carnage in Marawi. The organization known as the Maute Group attempted to seize the Muslim city in July this year but a quick response by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) caused a drawn out battle instead.

According to the Philippine government the battle to retake Marawi cost 163 soldiers killed, a thousand more injured, and the deaths of 47 civilians. The Maute Group, whose members pledged allegiance to ISIS, also took 1,771 hostages. Most of them were eventually rescued by the Philippine military.

Four months since the start of the battle Marawi is in ruins and the AFP confirms 824 terrorists have been killed and their weapons seized. According to the military, Hapilon and Maute were both killed while attempting an escape from their hideout. They were trying to use civilian hostages for cover in a rush toward a nearby wharf–Marawi city is located beside a lake. Apparently their plan was to escape by boat.

The military said a remote weapon station, probably the type mounted on an upgraded M113 APC, tracked the fleeing terrorists and the RWS’ thermal imaging allowed a gunner to identify and eliminate the pair. The bodies were then flown by helicopter to a nearby camp to be IDed. Snipers of the Philippine Army’s elite Scout Rangers were also credited for killing Hapilon and Maute.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited Marawi the following day, on October 17, and announced the liberation of the battered city. Duterte’s support for the AFP’s operations in Marawi remained steadfast throughout the fighting. As of this week, the Philippine President has visited the city seven times.

The battle of Marawi ranks among the most difficult battles fought by the AFP, whose land, air, and naval assets were deployed to thwart the Maute Group hold on the city. But the AFP couldn’t have done it alone. Generous support from regional and international allies poured in. These countries are: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the US. Even cooperation with the US flourished despite the Duterte administration’s disdain for Washington, DC’s influence. Deliveries of small arms, rockets, and munitions helped sustain the Philippine army and marines during 16 weeks of grueling combat.

Government losses, however, are some of the worst suffered in decades. Parts of Mindanao have been torn by civil war since 1972, when a secessionist revolt erupted against the Martial Law regime of President Marcos. Fighting between the AFP and its proxies and Muslim rebels flared up as recently as 2013, when hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) guerillas tried to occupy Zamboanga. Almost a month of heavy fighting razed entire sections of the historic city.

The Maute Group’s activities in Marawi this year bore many resemblances to the MNLF’s effort to seize Zamboanga as part of a new breakaway republic. But it must be emphasized the Maute Group are a local franchise of ISIS and aspire to establish a caliphate in territory they occupy. The Philippine military began fighting the Maute Group in Lanao del Sur province as early as 2015 but the battle of Marawi stands out as the biggest engagement with the terrorists yet.

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