CLARK, Philippines — The last militants in the city of Marawi, Philippines, were declared “finished” on Monday, ending a five-month siege that raised worry of the group gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia.
The Philippines’ defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said the defeat of pro-Islamic State group militants in Marawi helps prevent the spread of extremism in Asia. Some of the militants were from other countries, including Malaysia.
He made the declaration after the last group of gunmen were found dead.
Defense News and Military Times have been covering the situation in the Philippines and offering analysis surrounding the Islamic State group’s presence in the region:
Local media covering the fighting between troops belonging to the Armed Forces of the Philippines or AFP and militants in the city of Marawi on Mindanao Island have photographed an AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma Unmanned Aerial Vehicle being operated by Western personnel near the battle, as well as a Lockheed-Martin P-3C Orion circling the city on separate occasions.
Granted, there is virtually no possibility of the ISIS-linked militants successfully holding on to an ever-shrinking part of Marawi City in the Lanao del Sur province on the southern island of Mindanao against the ongoing military assault. But regional defense and security watchers fear that the perceived success of the Maute group in keeping the Philippine military at bay for even a protracted period could raise the group’s profile, making it a more attractive proposition to potential donors and recruits.
Southeast Asian neighbors Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines launched coordinated maritime patrols on Monday to intensify their fight against Islamic militants who have laid siege to a southern Philippine city.