MANILA (UPDATED)- President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday visited the besieged city of Marawi as the crisis dragged on to its fourth month.
The President's third visit was unannounced, just like his first two trips to the war-torn city. He first checked on troops in the conflict zone on July 20 after several postponements due to bad weather.
"I will be happy to die for my country. I need to be with you to show my solidarity,” Duterte told state forces during his visit.
“I am not ready to talk peace at this time kasi marami na akong sundalong namatay pati pulis. We have to end it the way it should be at ang earlier kong pronouncement, we will not stop until the last terrorist is neutralized," he added.
The Palace said Duterte arrived in Marawi at around 4 p.m. and stayed there for more than an hour.
The President also gave financial assistance, food packs, and watches to state troops, according to Malacañang.
Photos released by Malacañang showed the Commander-in-Chief, in military uniform, giving a speech to soldiers still battling Islamic State-linked Maute extremists in the city.
Earlier, government forces recaptured the Grand Mosque in Marawi City, where terrorists had been holed up since clashes began on May 23.
An ABS-CBN source said state troops did not encounter any extremist or find any hostage in the place of worship, which lies at the center of the lakeside town.
Some 700 people, mostly terror suspects, have reportedly died in clashes between the military and terrorists aiming to establish an Islamic State province in Mindanao. The entire region remains under martial rule.
More than 200,000 people have been forced to flee the city as government troops scrambled to recover the once bustling commercial district. --With reports from Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News