Duterte visits war-torn Marawi anew to boost morale of troops

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-11 20:52:51|Editor: Mengjie
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MANILA, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday visited war-torn Marawi City to boost the morale of troops involved in the ongoing efforts to liberate the city from the clutches of the Islamic State-inspired extremists.

Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the military's Western Mindanao Command and Joint Task Force Marawi, said the president arrived at conflict area at around 3:00 p.m. and left an hour and a half later.

Clad in an camouflage upper garment, a military cap and gray civilian pants, Duterte was accompanied by several security officials, including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Gen. Eduardo Ano.

Petinglay said Duterte went to the main battle area "to inform the soldiers that he is with us in this fight."

The president's visit to the city, his fourth since clashes between state troops and the extremists erupted in May, came as Presidential Palace Malacanang on Monday said the rebellion in the city was already "in its last miles."

Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr. said the ongoing battle in the city appeared to be entering the final stages.

"The remaining areas where the rebels are holed up are getting smaller and smaller by the day," Padilla said.

"And as we clear more buildings, we deny them the opportunity to retake additional facilities or installations where they can hide. So they are actually concentrated on only a few," he said.

The battle in Marawi has been raging since May 23, when Islamic State-inspired militants captured parts of the city. It has resulted in the death of 655 Maute members, 145 soldiers and policemen, and 45 civilians.

The violent clashes prompted Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial law until the end of the year, saying the local terrorists were aiming to establish an Islamic State province in the Philippines.