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AFP: We target mosques because terrorists are hiding there

Maute, Abu Sayyaf gunmen using mosques as logistics hub, snipers' nest - Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera
/ 06:40 PM June 13, 2017

In this May 29, 2017 file photo, a military helicopter hovers by a mosque as government troops battle with Muslim militants who continue to hold their ground in some areas of Marawi City  in southern Philippines. Philippine forces control most of the southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago, authorities said Monday, as the army launched airstrikes and went house-to-house to crush areas of resistance. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MARAWI CITY – The Armed Forces of the Philippines said it was forced to target mosques in its surgical strikes because terrorists have taken refuge in these places of worship.

“They are using the mosques. The sacredness (of the mosques) is gone as the Maute used these in their military activities,” said Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, the spokesperson of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.

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“As you can see they are making these (mosques) as their logistical hub and snipers’ nest,” he added.

He said as long as the terrorists were using the mosques as snipers’ nest, these would be targeted “in order to save lives and in order to protect our troops.”

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“Those identified enemy battle positions, they are targeted for surgical airstrikes so that we can gain foothold. That’s the development on the ground so that our men can advance in the inner heart of Marawi,” he said.

He said that as of Tuesday (June 13), high profile targets, Omar and Abdullah Maute, and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, were still inside Marawi leading their men.

But sources said on Monday, that  Abdullah Maute has become the highest ranking leader of the armed militants in Marawi now in command due to the absence of Isnilon Hapilon — believed to be the IS emir in the Philippines — from the war zone.

The same sources said every morning, Abdullah would go around their stronghold areas in the city aboard a pickup truck to marshal his forces to fight on.  SFM

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