Two leaders affiliated with the Islamic State and its operations in the Philippines are finally dead.
Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute Group leader Omar Maute led an assault on Marawi in the Southern Philippines. The clash between Filipino forces and the Muslim militants who have sworn allegiance to ISIS has raged for months, leading to the deaths of hundreds of civilians and soldiers. The two leaders were killed in a military operation, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reported Monday.
Maute was reportedly shot in the head by a sniper while trying to cross the street during a firefight, General Eduardo Ano, Commander of the Philippines Armed Forces, revealed at a press conference. The bodies will be buried according to traditional Islamic rites.
“It will be just a matter of days before it can finally be declared that Marawi has been liberated from the clutches of terrorists,” the general said.
The battle of Marawi was triggered by an attempt to capture Hapilon, but the shootout quickly escalated, evolving into a larger conflict. The radical Islamic terrorists had planned the assault in advance, digging tunnels under mosques, storing supplies around the city, and securing advanced weaponry. Over 800 militants, 162 Filipino soldiers, and an unknown number of civilians have been killed since the fighting began in late May. An estimated 350,000 residents were displaced and forced to flee Marawi and the surrounding areas.
The militants burned churches and schools, took hostages, and slaughtered civilians. (RELATED: ‘We’re Not Okay Here’: Filipino City In Flames As Battle Rages With ISIS-Linked Militants)
Much of the city of Marawi has been devastated by airstrikes and continued fighting. An operation that was initially expected to take a week has gone on for five months, but victory may finally be close at hand.
Booby traps and bombs, snipers, human shields, and a number of other issues have made the battle for Marawi an extremely deadly operation.
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