- Written by Mario J. Mallari
The Marawi City siege will be over by Sunday.
Thus, said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who announced yesterday that the Islamic State-inspired terrorists are just holed up within one block in the main battle area.
At the same time, Lorenzana cited another breakthrough in the ongoing military offensives against the terrorists – the capture of the White Mosque.
“I think this will be over by Sunday,” declared Lorenzana, despite the heavy resistance put up until yesterday by terrorists at the White Mosque.
Lorenzana, however, maintained that clearing operations will continue until the entire area is declared free from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by the terrorists.
According to Lorenzana, there are still about 100 terrorists putting up resistance within the one-block battlefield.
The Defense chief also noted the surrender feelers being fanned by the terrorists through Lanao del Sur Rep. Mauyag Papandayan.
“Now, there was this offer to surrender by these Mautes. I was told by Congressman Papandayan…that they want to surrender,” Lorenzana said.
He assured the safety of those who will choose to surrender.
“Just go out with your hands up in the air…anytime they can surrender, they can get out and they will not be killed,” Lorenzana said.
“We will not kill people who are surrendering, your soldiers are not murderers…we will take them and the court will handle their case,” he added.
As of Wednesday, the military claimed to have killed more than 700 terrorists and recovered almost the same number of high-powered firearms.
On the other hand, a total of 151 government troops were killed in action while 47 civilians also perished.
The Marawi City siege erupted last May 23 when government troops attempted to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, the designated emir or leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS in Southeast Asia.
Up to last week, the military said that Hapilon remained in the main battle area leading one of the two remaining groups of terrorists in fighting government troops. The other terrorist leader is Omar Maute of the Maute Group.
Several hostages are still being held by the terrorists.