Philippines: 2 ISIS-affiliated terror leaders eliminated in Marawi

Pro-IS militants continue fierce fight in Philippines' Marawi

"We are hoping that we will end this Marawi siege very soon", Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the task force battling the militants, told reporters on Friday, as cited by AFP. The other militant leader killed was Omar Maute, one of the two brothers who led the Maute terrorist group in the country, Lorenzana told a news conference.

The military, which killed two key militant leaders on Monday, said they hoped it was the final phase of defeating a dwindling band of fighters who had occupied Marawi for nearly five months.

However, AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año stressed in a press briefing in Marawi, also on Tuesday, assured that just because the battle is near its end, it does not mean that there will be a "letup" in their operations. The US government had offered a $5 million bounty for information leading to Hapilon's arrest, describing the 51-year-old as a senior leader of the southern Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf group, which the US considers a "foreign terrorist organisation".

He said the 4ID is in close coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Mindanao Command for any intelligence update regarding the movement and presence of the remaining insurgents. DNA tests will be carried out on the two bodies because of the reward offer from the U.S. and Philippine governments, Lorenzana said.

"We will announce the termination of hostilities in a couple of days", Lorenzana added, referring to the months' long siege.

Philippine authorities have made several previous announcements on the imminent end of the conflict, but observers believe this time the forecast is likely to be accurate.

Hapilon, Islamic State's anointed "emir" in Southeast Asia, took fighters from his Abu Sayyaf faction to join forces with the Maute clan and storm Marawi City in May. Duterte has imposed martial law across the southern third of the Philippines to quell the militant threat. "So, it's huge money", the defense chief said.

"Once more, CBCP is the hapless victim of fake news", CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.

Another leader, Abdullah Maute, was reported by the army to have been killed in August, though no body was found to prove his death. Around 100 civilians, including hostages and families of the militants, are also trapped there, Brawner added.

Marawi is Lanao del Sur's capital and largest city.

"Women and children are now forced to fight together with the Maute-ISIS fighters".

However an analyst said the deaths of the leaders would likely prompt retaliatory attacks from their followers and allies, with young leaders seeking to take their place.

A Philippine military spokesman says troops are being careful in the intense fighting with militants in Marawi city because of concerns for the safety of the 50 to 100 hostages still being held by the Islamic State group-linked militants.

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