ZAMBOANGA CITY- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has started withdrawing forces as the fighting against the Daesh-inspired Maute group nears end in Marawi City. It is nearly over with only 20 of them still fighting the soldiers in a small portion of the city.
Military spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla Jr. on Thursday said the first batch of soldiers had been sent off for a "much-needed break" following President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of liberation of the conflict-torn city from the terrorist influence.
The Army's 1st Infantry Battalion was awarded by the commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) during a sendoff in Camp Ranao, Marawi City, this morning.
"I laud the men and women of the 1st Infantry Battalion for their dedicated service and for being here at the onset of the Marawi siege".
The battalion was among the unit of troops to reinforce the soldiers in Marawi City during the earlier stage of fighting.
The Western Mindanao Command said the 1st IB is responsible for the rescue of 34 hostages of the members of the Maute Group and the recovery of assorted high powered and low powered firearms.
The Silver Cross Medal was awarded to Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Tampus and three other company commanders of the 1st IB.
Galvez said six military battalions will stay in Marawi while its rehabilitation is ongoing.
He said a certain Malaysian national, identified as Amin Bacu, is now the leader of the more than 20 remaining Maute terrorists reportedly confined to just three structures in Marawi.
Marawi City was declared liberated from terrorists on Tuesday, a day after top leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed by government forces.