AFP preparing for ‘one big battle’ in Marawi

MANILA — After regaining the Marawi City police station and the Grand Mosque last week, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said the military is now preparing for the “one big battle” that will liberate the locality from the clutches of the remaining Maute Group terrorists.

This is possible as the area, where the terrorists are holed in, have grown much smaller, the AFP chief said Monday.

He added that he is expecting the Maute Group remnants to resist as the latter are forced to consolidate into much smaller positions which they will use in fighting to the end.

“Formerly, they (Maute Group terrorists) were spread out (but with the capture of the Marawi City police station and Grand Mosque) they are now consolidating their remaining fighters and positions,” Año said in Filipino.

He also declined to give the date or timeframe for this so-called “one big battle” preferring that the ground and tactical commanders decide and plan on the operation.

As of this writing, military units in Marawi have so far neutralized 603 terrorists and recovered 665 weapons.

Government losses were placed at 130 troops along with 45 civilians executed or killed by the terrorists.

Rescued civilians totaled 1,728 while 1,270 improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnances have been recovered so far.