Philippine troops retake Grand Mosque in Marawi City

Mosque had been stronghold for ISIL-linked terrorists who have held out for more than 3 months

Philippine troops retake Grand Mosque in Marawi City

World Bulletin / News Desk

Troops have retaken the Grand Mosque in Marawi City from pro-ISIL terrorists after three months, the military announced Friday.

The city center mosque had been one of the strongholds of Maute and Abu Sayyaf fighters holding out as government forces slowly resumed control of the city following the outbreak of fighting on May 23.

However, none of the dozens of hostages held by the terrorists were discovered when soldiers entered the mosque on Thursday, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Resituto Padilla told a news briefing in Manila.

“Early yesterday morning, the assault on the Grand Mosque was conducted,” he said, adding that troops met resistance from retreating militants.

“Unfortunately, we did not find any hostages in the facility.”

Padilla described regaining control of the mosque as a “significant development”, the Inquirer news website reported.

During the battle to retake Marawi, terrorists have used mosques as key bases and posted snipers in minarets, aware of the military’s reluctance to target religious sites.

Padilla said troops were clearing the mosque of an “abundance” of explosives.

Fighting in the city, the capital of Lanao del Sur province on the southern island of Mindanao, was now confined to “half a square kilometer grid”, Padilla said.

The battle for Marawi began after police and military moved to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, the head of ISIL-affiliated groups in the Philippines.

More than 300,000 residents have been displaced in the fighting and 770 people killed -- 596 militants, 129 security force members and 45 civilians.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Ağustos 2017, 11:23