By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday assured that it is their desire to clear Marawi City of the presence of terrorists in the soonest possible time, thus the need for more surgical airstrikes.
In a statement, AFP spokesman Brig.Gen. Restituto Padilla said as much as they would like to avoid collateral damage, the rebels are forcing the hand of government by hiding and holding out inside private homes, government buildings and other facilities.
“Their refusal to surrender is holding the city captive. Hence, it is now increasingly becoming necessary to use more surgical airstrikes to clear the city and to bring this rebellion to a quicker end,” Padilla said.
“We desire to free Marawi City of these evil forces and make way for a peaceful Ramadan for our citizens there who have supported our efforts,” he added.
Padilla, at the same time, appealed for understanding as the military takes the necessary steps to accomplish its mission and prevent the loss of more innocent lives and damage to private and public property.
At least 40 Maute Group members have already been killed as a result of the airstrikes. No civilians were hurt during the military operations.
Meanwhile, the AFP Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said all its personnel in Western Mindanao were ordered to carry out security measures to ensure that the vicinity of mosques (masjids) will be secured and that the Islamic faithfuls are free to go there to exercise their religion.”
AFP WestMinCom chief Lieutenant General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., said as fighting continues in Marawi, their units are constrained to launch airstrikes in identified specific targets occupied by the Maute/ISIS terrorist group.
“The terrorists actions prevent their fellow Muslims to peacefully and solemnly observe Ramadan by continuing to occupy buildings and structures in Marawi City. They serve to impede our troops in restoring peace and order in the City,” Galvez said.
“These terrorists’ atrocities continue to sow terror and confusion even to non-combatant Muslims and Christians. Establishments are not operational and government services are unavailable causing extreme deprivation and hardships to the people,” he added.