MANILA - The military on Wednesday ruled out air strikes to flush out Maute extremists from the southern city of Marawi to avoid harming civilians.
Troops are under strict orders to avoid collateral damage with "very precise and deliberate operations," said Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera, spokesman of the Army's 1st Infantry Division.
"Air strikes are not an option right now because of the people around the area," Herrera told ANC.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao region under martial law and cut short an official visit to Russia after Maute militants on Tuesday torched buildings in Marawi City, sparking fighting that left at least 3 security forces killed and 12 others wounded.
"We are securing vital installations, redeploying troops around Marawi City, checking also those possible exits and entries for the Maute," Herrera said.