The siege of Marawi City in the southern Philippines could be over soon because the logistics of the Islamist militants holed up there have been disrupted and they have been reduced to a "small resistance."
Major General Carlito Galvez, head of the military command in Western Mindanao region, told a news conference in Marawi City that troops had entered three areas from which the pro-Islamic State fighters had pulled back.
"We saw food, IEDs, mobility assets. Considering we have paralysed logistics capability, we are looking at the possibility that the end will be near," he said.
He added that the military believed "more or less 100" civilians were still being held hostage by the militants.
The battle for Marawi has raised concern that Islamic State, on a back foot in Syria and Iraq, is building a regional base on the Philippine island of Mindanao that could pose a threat to neighboring Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Officials have said that, among the several hundred militants who seized the town on May 23, there were about 40 foreigners from Indonesia and Malaysia but also fighters from India, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Chechnya.
The strike on Marawi City suggested to many that pro-Islamic State outfits wanted to establish the town as a Southeast Asian ‘wilayat’ – or governorate.
The military has said that the fighters are increasingly penned in around a built-up area of the town, and troops have been clearing houses that the militants had defended with snipers for the past two weeks.
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Writing by John Chalmers)