An Anarchist and Autonomous Community-Based Resource Center in Muntinlupa City (Manila south), Philippines
AIRSTRIKES against Maute positions in Marawi City will continue despite calls from residents for the bombing runs to stop, military officials said Wednesday.
“We feel the pain, we feel the hurt of every member or every citizen or every resident of Marawi. But let us remember that we did not start this,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla. “It was the armed group, the Maute Daesh ISIS…that entered your city to wreak havoc on it.”
Padilla said the airstrikes had to continue because government troops were facing stiff resistance in the “inner enclaves of the city.”
Military officials also said t hey would have to consider bombing mosques where the terrorists were hiding and launching attacks.
With bomb-proof tunnels, anti-tank weapons hidden in mosques, human shields and familiarity with the terrain, the Maute terrorists are proving a far tougher opponent than military chiefs expected.
Two weeks after gunmen waving black flags of the Islamic State group rampaged through Marawi, initial assertions from authorities that the conflict would be over in days have given way to warnings of a protracted battle.
“The advantage of the [enemy] is their mastery of the terrain. They know where even the smallest alleys lead to and they are free to go around,” Maj. Rowan Rimas, an operations officer for the Marines, told reporters in Marawi this week.
“They know where the government forces are coming from and where they are taking cover. They have snipers and their positions are well-defended.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted at the start of the conflict that security forces were taken by surprise when dozens of gunmen appeared on the streets of Marawi following a failed raid to capture Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.