After months of fighting, ISIS affiliate The Maute group has captured it’s first Filipino city. Marawi, a city of 22 million people, was taken by only 500 militants.
What began along the countryside eventually spilled into urban areas, and that led to an ISIS flag being raised over a hospital. Inside the hospital, it is being said that ISIS is holding doctors and nurses hostage, although this has yet to be confirmed.
Five government soldiers were wounded in the clash that led to the capturing of the city. The military obtained evidence that a top terror suspect was hiding out in Marawi in the Lanao del Sur province.
The Maute group is among several other organizations that are affiliated with ISIS, in the southern Philippines in recent years.
Filipino President Duterte is facing a similar dynamic as Bashar al-Assad in Syria. However, Duterte is not taking any chances, after the city was besieged he declared Martial Law.
According to Patrick Henderson, speaking to RT, Duterte is in a bit of a tight spot;
This President is already under intense scrutiny by the sort of wider international community, if you will, and specifically by the US. He has sort of gone at loggerheads with Washington on more than one occasion. This is a bit of a tight spot, a bit of a Catch-22 for Duterte in the Philippines because he will already have been somewhat demonized for his heavy-handed approach to organized crime and the organized drug trade that has affected his country. So comparisons will be made to Ferdinand Marcos. This is bit of public relations issue for this President and this government. It will have to be ironed out.
At the end of the day he is in the exact same situation, very similar situation that Bashar Assad in Syria was in early on in the sort of the terrorist takeover of that country in the early days of the FSA, and then Al-Nusra Front, and then later ISIS. So he has to balance out this public relations issue – is he too heavy-handed? Most people would say looking at Syria that you can’t be heavy-handed enough when it comes to dealing with ISIS. So we’ll see how much progress he makes on the island in the next few weeks.
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