MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has retaken a mosque and a school in Marawi city, military top brass said in a statement on Saturday.
AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said the military evicted Islamic State-linked terrorists inside Bato mosque and the Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation, which served as strongholds of the Maute group.
The military said the firefight lasted for five hours, with the buildings seized at about 5 p.m. on Saturday. Año said the retaking of the two structures was an "enormous AFP gain" that "weakened" the terrorists.
"As follow-up and clearing operations continue, we expect the enemy to yield more previously occupied positions, but not without a fight. We are ready for that," he said in a statement.
"We urge the remaining terrorists, especially former hostages turned fighters, to endeavor to communicate with the military. Surrender while they still have time."
Fighting between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists have been raging for nearly four months in Marawi, leaving at least 845 dead, most of them terrorists, and hundreds of thousands displaced.
The prolonged conflict has left much of the once bustling urban center ravaged, and the government has begun plans for its rehabilitation.