BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:28 P.M.) – The Wahhabi terrorist Internationale known as the Islamic State has spread its domain of armed occupation to the Philippine city of Marawi. On the 23rd of May, two Jihadist factions – the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf militia – operating on the Philippine island of Mindanao under the banner of ISIS launched a shock attack on Marawi, a predominately Muslim city of 220,000 people. The assault came about with the sudden uprising of a battalion-sized sleeper cell inside the city which sent government forces into total disarray. For the presentation to follow, OZ Analysis would like to thank Al-Masdar News Deputy CEO Chris Tomson for his cooperation – via personal communication – in the understanding of the military situation in Marawi, as an exceptionally informed source.
What began with the activation of some five hundred ISIS-linked sleeper troops in the area of the provincial jail and main police station resulted in the releasing of an unknown number of prisoners who will undoubtedly be recruited by the terrorist conglomerate and the capture and looting of the city’s main armoury. With this achieved, ISIS spread towards the centre of the city, laying siege to the Pakpak Hospital and the City Hall, and into the eastern suburbs, isolating the city harbour.
After a full day of gunfights, government forces (including both local police and the army) outnumbered and unable to consolidate any tenable positions in Marawi were driven in rout from the city. With the seizure of Marawi’s main infrastructures and the establishment of a number of checkpoints throughout the city, ISIS de facto conquered the rump of Marawi.
After consolidating itself over the main part of Marawi, ISIS forayed beyond the city limits, launching threatening attacks in the direction of the Mindanao State University and southwestern suburbs. Government forces were able to parry these attacks. However, ISIS did at some point establish a guerrilla-style presence in the countryside to the southwest of Marawi where it continues to harass the main communication line used by government forces with snipers and hit-and-run attacks. This has, to a degree, compromised the ability of government forces to reinforce and resupply their presence on the outskirts of the city. It also serves to demoralise government troops before they reach the frontlines around Marawi.
In recent days, government forces have regrouped and launched a counter-offensive into the western and southern sectors of Marawi. During this time airstrikes have been observed in and around the habour area. Whilst it must be said that overall disposition of government and ISIS forces within the city remains vague due to contradictory reports; what can be more or less confirmed is government forces have since liberated the Pakpak Hospital and the City Hall. No reports have appeared which indicate that the provincial jail or the police station have yet been retaken from ISIS and indeed these locations will likely become final strongpoints as ISIS is expunged from the city. Furthermore, it is possible that ISIS has either abandoned or been forced out of Marawi’s eastern suburbs. However, in the meantime, this analysis will assume that ISIS remains in the area until better information is available.
Overall, the last couple days has shown that government forces have recovered from the initial shock of the ISIS attack on Marawi and, through a series of containment actions and counterattacks, now appear to hold the strategic initiative in the battle for the city.
In pictures: ISIS forces Christians to convert in Marawi as Philippine Army seizes jihadist guns
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:00 A.M.) – Disturbing photos emerged on Wednesday showing alleged forced conversions of Christian residents in the predominately Sunni city of Marawi in the southern Philippines, much like earlier ISIS procedures in Iraq.
Although around 90% of Marawi’s previous 200,000 civilians have fled, some people – including a few dozen Christians – have decided to stay behind in a mark of defiance to the Islamic State which overran most of the embattled city last week.
Meanwhile, most of the current heavy clashes are centered around the southern and western suburbs of the city with ISIS slowly conceding urban terrain in the face of overwhelming numbers, yet rather inexperienced army soldiers.
A military source in the Philippine Army said at least 89 ISIS militants had been killed since clashes began on May 22.
On the other hand, Amaq Agency said 7 government troops were killed on Wednesday alone amid a large-scale ambush on a convoy in Marawi, bringing the total Philippine Army death toll well above 100 since the insurgency erupted.
Nevertheless, the Philippine Army captured its first large batch of weapons amid raids on jihadist storage bases and ISIS forward positions across the southern suburbs of the city, now witnessing an ongoing counter-offensive by government forces:
In pictures: ISIS attacks Philippine Army convoy in Marawi, many armored vehicles captured
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:30 P.M.) – Heavy clashes erupted once again in Marawi on Wednesday afternoon local time after ISIS insurgents ambushed a Philippine Army convoy which was heading towards the city centre through its western suburbs.
Using anti-tank weaponry and various types of armaments, the ISIS-linked Maute and Abu Sayyaf militants forced the Philippine troops to abandon their armored vehicles after killing at least a handful of government soldiers.
In addition, jihadist fighters also downed a DJI Mavic Pro survillance drone over Marawi:
Despite reports to the contrary, at least half of the city remains under ISIS control, including all neighborhoods in downtown Marawi, the port in southern marawi along with the Mapandi and Bayabao bridges.
Nevertheless, counter-insurgency operations are still underway as the Philippine Army has enemy combattants outnumbered at least ten to ten. Some 500 ISIS fighters are said to be bogged down in Marawi with hundreds more active across rural Lanao which is under martial law.