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Palace lauds AFP for retaking strategic bridge in Marawi

/ 11:41 PM September 02, 2017
marawi assault

This file photo shows military troops belonging to the 5th Marine Battalion of the 1st Marine brigade assaulting one of the strong holds of Maute terrorist group in the village of Mapandi after an airstrike from MG-520 attack helicopter on May 20 .(Photo by : Richel V. Umel, Inquirer Mindanao)

Published: 1:52 p.m., Sept. 2, 2017 | Updated: 11:41 p.m., Sept. 2, 2017

Malacañang on Saturday lauded the military’s retaking of a strategic bridge in Marawi City from the Islamic State-inspired terrorists.

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On Friday morning, government forces have taken control of Bayabao bridge in Barangay Banggolo, which became a major battle ground between government troops and members of the Maute group since clashes broke out in May.

READ: Troops start final push to retake Marawi from terrorists

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“The retaking of this strategic bridge is an important development as we continue to gain the upper hand in the main battle area and expand our vantage positions with more troop deployments,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

“Military operations continue to remain intense and focused, with the safety of hostages in mind, in the hope of bringing a quicker end to the rebellion and retake Marawi from the evil hands of the Maute terrorist rebels,” Abella added.

The Bayabao bridge is one of the three bridges that lead to the center of Marawi.

Three soldiers were killed while 52 others were wounded as the Philippine Marines took over the bridge.

Abella said the military operations against the terrorists continued to be “intense and focused” with the safety of civilians a primary concern of soldiers, who were also hoping for a quicker end to the fighting.

Abella also said President Duterte and the military were trying to spare Marawi mosques from destruction during the war.

He said Mr. Duterte and the Armed Forces “are taking pains to preserve places of worship” as in the case of the Grand Mosque, which had been liberated from terrorists but remained standing.

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He said although there were cases exempted from international conventions that barred targeting places of worship during war, “we have deliberately chosen to preserve” mosques in Marawi.

Abella issued the statement after Mr. Duterte, on Friday, said he preferred that the military not to target mosques used by terrorists to hide because it would anger residents of the city.

It was a sharp turnaround from Mr. Duterte’s earlier statement, made on Wednesday, that he was leaving it up to the military whether to bomb mosques being used as hiding places by terrorists.

The war on terror in Marawi has been raging for more than three months.  JPV

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TAGS: AFP, Bayabao Bridge, Ernesto Abella, Malacañang, Marawi City, Maute group, retaking, strategic bridge
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