Manila, Oct 15: Islamic State (IS)-linked militants were putting up fierce resistance as government forces continued a bloody offensive to retake the southern Philippine city of Marawi, an army commander said on Sunday. Col. Romeo Brawner expressed hope that the Marawi siege will end “very soon”, Xinhua reported.
Brawner said: “We are trying our best (to meet the military’s self-imposed October 15 target), our troops are fighting hard.” “Until now our troops are still assaulting the defensive positions of the Maute-IS, and despite the fact that we have set today as a target day for finishing the armed conflict, our troops are still pushing hard, fighting hard to meet this target,” Brawner said. He said “the Maute-IS have established very strong defensive positions”, adding that the IS fighters were hiding in dugouts and basements of occupied buildings. Around 40 Maute fighters were believed to be holed up within a two-hectare area near Lao Lake in the devastated city, Brawner said. He said the militants were using hostages, including women and children, as shield against the government forces (IANS)