President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said the Marawi conflict will end in a "matter of days" as government troops intensify operations against the Maute extremists and other rebels still holed up in the Islamic city.
“The way it is evolving now, I think it will be a matter of days. Before the end of the month, matatapos na yan,” Duterte told cops in a speech in Camp Quintin Merecido in Davao City.
The President also assured that the government is winning the war, and apologized anew for the crisis which is now on its 38th day.
“We are winning the war, do not worry,” he said.
"I am sorry to everybody, lalo na si civilians sa Marawi. Nadamay sila. This is a very cruel and brutal group...," he added.
Clashes between state forces and Islamist rebels erupted last May 23, forcing over 200,000 to flee their homes.
The military on Thursday said the death toll has risen to 418--303 terror suspects, 71 government troops, and 44 civilians.
Duterte also said there was "no telling" when the problem of terrorism would end.
The President reiterated that the extremists in Marawi City were backed by proceeds from the illegal drug trade.
"They were producing drugs beyond the normal capacity of all of the addicts in the Philippines can consume, so they were really actually selling and buying guns and everything," he said.
"It will be good that after this war, if it will end someday, to start looking into saan [nila nakuha] itong mga baril pati bala," he added.