Death of top Maute leaders a 'decisive victory'

The insurgents have withstood a relentless US-backed bombing campaign and intense ground battles with troops that have left large parts of Marawi resembling devastated cities in war-torn Syria and Iraq

The insurgents have withstood a relentless US-backed bombing campaign and intense ground battles with troops that have left large parts of Marawi resembling devastated cities in war-torn Syria and Iraq

"Crumbling leadership signals the beginning of the end", said Marawi City Bishop Edwin dela Peña in an interview.

"We were supposed to go to Marawi with the President but we were prevailed upon by the commanders on the ground to postpone our trip because they are going to conduct the assault today", Lorenzana told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

In a press statement, Lorenzana said they will announce the termination of hostilities "once government forces have ensured that there are no more terrorists-stragglers in the city and we have cleared all structures of IEDs and other traps".

DNA tests will be carried out on the two bodies because of the reward offer from the United States and Philippine governments, he added.

He said the death of these leaders means the fighting is nearly over and they will announce the termination of hostilities "in a couple of days".

The troops were able to locate Hapilon and Maute through the information provided by a female hostage who earlier escaped. Mahmud uses the nom de guerre Abu Handzalah and is a close associate of Hapilon. The military said Hapilon and the Maute brothers plotted the Marawi siege on May 23.

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"The only way (ISIS) could do this again is if people in these areas do nothing when they see some foreign-looking people with firearms and explosives, which happened in Marawi", Lorenzana said. Since that date, more than 1,000 people have been killed and 400,000 residents were displaced.

Filipino government troops on a truck manoeuvre at a deserted street as fighting between Islamist militants and government forces continues in Marawi City, Mindanao Island, southern Philippines, 02 June 2017.

The Philippines military is about to end the long battle of Marawi where an Islamic State-linked terrorist group is making its "last stand" amid heavy fighting, top army commanders announced, according to AFP.

"Yes, they are confirmed dead", Lorenzana said, adding DNA tests would be done on the remains of the two militant leaders to pave the way for the payment of huge USA and Philippine bounties offered for the two. In July, Philippine legislators voted overwhelmingly to extend martial law to deal with Islamist insurgents until December 31.

He said after the cessation of hostilities in Marawi "within this week", they will "assess the entire Mindanao if there is a need to recommend to the President the lifting of martial law". He said there will be no big celebration when the city is finally completely retaken, adding there are no victors in the war. Large swaths of the city, especially in the central business district, are a pock-marked moonscape of heavily damaged buildings, shops and houses. "So, it's huge money", the defense chief said.

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