Philippines declares battle with ISIL over
Offensive combat operations were terminated after troops put a stop to the last stand of rebel gunmen who clung on inside several buildings in the heart of Marawi, and refused to surrender.
Ernesto Abella, spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte, said the Philippines had prevailed against "the most serious threat of violent extremism and radicalism in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the security forces had "nipped the budding infrastructure" of extremist groups.
"In crushing thus far the most serious attempt to export violent extremism and radicalism in the Philippines and in the region, we have contributed to preventing its spread in Asia," Lorenzana said.
The authorities said 920 militants, 165 troops and police and at least 45 civilians were killed in the conflict, which displaced more than 300,000 people.
Duterte had declared Marawi City liberated six days ago, even though fighting was not actually over. On Oct. 22, he said it was important to be vigilant because no country could escape ISIL’s "clutches of evil.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis congratulated the Philippine army for its successes against militants.
“The Philippine military has sent a very necessary message to the terrorists,” Mattis said.