DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:00 P.M.) – On Thursday, the Philippine Air Force conducted over a dozen pinpoint sorties across three ISIS-held neighborhoods of Marawi after jihadists captured most of the city in a remarkable coup by the ISIS-linked groups Abu Sayyaf and Maute on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, ground units of the 1st Infantry Division, 103rd Brigade, special forces and military police intensified their counter-insurgency operations across the city after reinforcements arrived this morning.
So far, the Philippine Armed Forces have retaken Amai Pakpak Hospital and Dansalan College along with a handful of key sites. Several suburbs have also been recaptured since the army largely abandoned the city two days ago; the latter decision allowed ISIS to raise the black flag over many government buildings and take over a hundred people hostage.
On the other hand, ISIS seized dozens of rifles from a local arms shop and captured most of the harbour.
Hundreds of ISIS militants and sleeper cells are still present inside Malawi, including Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, believed to be the regional ISIS leader in Southeast Asia.
Thus far, 13 ISIS militants have been neutralized. Meanwhile, 8 government troops have been killed-in-action while an additional 31 injuries have been sustained due to firefights.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the entire Mindanao for 60 days because of the fighting. Marawi is home to over 200,000 people, making it roughly the size of Raqqa in comparison. Thousands of residents have fled the clashes already.