By Francis Wakefield
A military official Wednesday said recruitment to the Maute-IS (Islamic State) group has slowed down following the surrender of Maute-IS remnants in recent months due to intense military operations.
This developed as an ISIS-inspired terrorist leader belonging to the Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP) was killed following an encounter with government troops in Sarangani on Monday.
In a statement, Colonel Romeo S. Brawner Jr., spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Joint Task Force (JTF) Ranao, said 60 more Maute-IS remnants have surrendered in the past months due to intense military operations to hunt and neutralize them. “Certain conditions indicate that the enemy’s recruitment has significantly slowed down following the surrender of Maute-IS remnants,” Brawner said.
“According to the surrenderers, most of the remnants have been isolated and have lost their will to fight following the series of military operations conducted by the 103rd Brigade in Lanao del Sur,” he added. He said security forces are postured to thwart possible attacks by the Maute remnants to protect communities.
Militants of the Maute group who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State sieged Marawi City, the Islamic capital of the Philippines, on May 23, 2017, then took over parts of the city using civilians as human shields.
President Rodrigo Duterte and security analysts said the militants were trying to establish a Southeast Asian caliphate in Marawi.
The ensuing US-backed military campaign to evict the militants claimed more than 1,000 lives, displaced 400,000 residents and left large parts of Marawi in ruins.
Citing data, Brawner said 168 government troops (military and police) and 978 Maute-ISIS were killed in the five-month war, including 47 civilians.