MANILA- Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana said clashes between state forces and Islamic State-inspired extremists in Marawi City are likely to end this month.
Lorenzana made the comment during the first meeting of the Senate Special Committee for the rehabilitation of Marawi City Tuesday.
"They are not surrendering, so kailangan kunin isa-isa 'yan. If they don't surrender, they will be killed. By the end of this month... ma-aano na 'yan," he told reporters following the meeting.
Lorenzana said around 50 Maute extremists remain holed up in the besieged city and noted the heightened confidence of government troops in reclaiming the war-torn city.
"Di gaya ng dati, mas kumpiyansa ang tropa ngayon sa pagbibigay ng pagtataya kung kailan matatapos ang bakbakan sa Marawi," he said.
The defense chief is also hopeful to bring back a sense of normalcy in Marawi City in the coming weeks.
"Baka puwede nang ibalik sa periphery na hindi naman naapektuhan. Takot lang kasi 'yung tropa na ma-stray bullet sila doon, baka ma-hostage pa sila. Let's see. Baka in a couple of weeks maibalik na sila doon," he said.
The clashes in Marawi City which erupted last May 23 have left over 800 people dead, mostly terror suspects.
It has also forced over 200,000 people out of their homes and has left one of the most bustling urban centers in ruins.