THE number of ISIS-inspired Maute Group members fighting in Marawi City has dwindled to less than 50, a military official said on Sunday.
Joint Task Force Ranao deputy commander Col. Romero Brawner said the terrorist group’s resistance has also become weaker even as the government failed to meet its Sept. 30 target announced by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for ending the Marawi siege.
“Not yet. Not today,” Brawner said.
A mass was held on Sunday at the Saint Mary’s Cathedral for the first time since the Maute group attacked the city four months ago.
“Today [Sunday] is also the feast of St. Therese, one of the patron saints of the military. So we arealso seeking divine blessing so we can end this conflict as soon as possible,” Brawner said.
A total of 749 members of the Maute group have been killed by government troops since the start of the conflict, while 155 security forces were slain in action.
Last week, Lorenzana assured Maute members planning to surrender that they will not be killed if they decide to yield themselves.
“We will not kill people who are surrendering. Our soldiers are not murderers,” Lorenzana said.
He said Lanao del Sur Rep. Mauyag Papandayan, chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs, told him during the Marawi briefing that there were Maute members who have sent surrender feelers.