South East Asia

Marawi city “liberated” from IS-affiliated forces

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Credit: TOTO LOZANO/PPD

Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, has declared victory over Islamic State after months of fighting.

“I hereby declare Marawi city liberated from the terrorist influence,” said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a visit to the city on 17 October.

A key financial backer of the IS-affiliated jihadi group is rumoured to have escaped the city. The militants had entrenched themselves in Marawi, and the Philippine military had been carry out operations to flush them out. One of these was an assault on the militant hideout, killing seven of their fighters, as well as two top commanders, and freeing 17 hostages.

Martial law remains in force in Marawi and rest of the Mindanao area, as the military says that there are still “pockets of fighting” against “stragglers,” estimated to number between 20 to 30.

Fighting between the government forces and IS-liked militants broke out in May, and the city of Marawi has been under siege for almost four months, costing the lives of more than 1,000 people, displacing almost 600,000, and causing massive damage to the historic city. Since jihadists first seized control in May 2017, Christians have been taken hostage, churches have been torched and some Christian hostages have reported that they were made to build bombs for Islamic State

IS and their allied militants have suffered significant setbacks in recent weeks, with ISIL being ejected from Mosul and Raqqa, their former capital.