Thu11232017

LAST_UPDATEThu, 23 Nov 2017 11am

Philippine Forces Kill 13 Pro-IS Fighters In Overnight Assault In Marawi

MANILA -- Philippine forces killed 13 pro-Islamic State (IS) fighters during an overnight assault in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, China's Xinhua news agency reported armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen Eduardo ANo as saying on Thursday.

Military assault continued to flush out the remaining 30 Maute-ISIS rebels holed up in the besieged city despite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of "liberation" on Tuesday, Ano said in a statement.

"Our operations to flush out and deal with terrorist stragglers have been continuing relentlessly since Wednesday," Ano said, adding that Wednesday's operations had been "very positive."

A verification process is underway to confirm whether or not Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad, who allegedly financed the Marawi siege, was among those killed in the assault, Ano said.

"Earlier confirmation regarding this was received from the rescued hostages. We are now working on getting full confirmation," Ano said.

The troops also rescued a mother and her wounded daughter during the operation, Ano said, adding however, there are still more than 20 people remaining in captivity.

Six soldiers were also wounded in the assault. "But most of our wounded soldiers are safe," he said.

There are still estimated 30 militants who continue to fight it out with the government forces, according to military estimates.

Military ground commander Col. Romeo Brawner said that "we cannot say definitely" if Mahmud Ahmad was among those killed on Wednesday night. "We have to confirm this. There has to be validation process," he told reporters.

Brawner said that the troops "cannot move forward easily" because the militants continue to use the hostages as shield.

"We believe that the remaining fighters are really motivated to fight to the end," said Brawner.

More than 1,000 people, including more than 800 extremist fighters and 163 soldiers and policemen, have been killed in the battle to completely retake the city from IS militants. 

-- BERNAMA