Fighting in southern Philippine city may end imminently - military | World

MARAWI CITY, Philippines (Reuters) - The Philippines is preparing to declare the end of fighting in a southern city seized for five months by pro-Islamic State rebels, a top military commander said on Saturday, as troops continued a phased withdrawal from the devastated lakeside city.

Members of the Philippine Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) and Marine Special Operation Group (MARSOG) stands at attention in front of their belongings during their send-off ceremony ending their combat duty against pro-Islamic State militant groups inside a military headquarters in Marawi city, southern Philippines October 21, 2017, a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced the liberation of Marawi city. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Only 20 insurgents remained in a small area in Marawi City, including five “significant” figures, and three battalions of troops were closing in on their positions, said Lieutenant-General Carlito Galvez.

“Most probably tomorrow, we can do it,” Galvez told reporters when asked when the military can declare fighting is over. “We can declare it is totally complete.”

Galvez said troops are zeroing in on three sons of Isnilon Hapilon, the slain “emir” of Islamic State in Southeast Asia, and two Malaysians, including Amin Baco, who has been central to facilitating the movement of foreign fighters in the region.

“We cannot say our mission is totally accomplished or completed if the five persons are still there,” he said, adding the remaining militants are “st....

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