THE Islamic State on Tuesday called on its followers all over the world to launch more attacks during the holy month of Ramadan as it praised jihadist attacks in the Philippines, claiming that its fighters had spread through two-thirds of Marawi City.
Military officials on Tuesday admitted that ISIS-inspired groups remained in control of 10 out of the 96 barangays in Marawi City.
In an audio message purportedly from ISIS spokesman Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer, the group called for more jihadist attacks in the United States, Europe, Russia, Australia, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and the Philippines.
“Children of the caliphate in eastern Asia, we congratulate you for taking Marawi,” Al-Mouhajer said in an audio clip distributed over Islamic State’s channel on Telegram.
He also made a general appeal to “caliphate soldiers” around the world to launch attacks against “rejectionists.”
“To the brethren of faith and belief in Europe, America, Russia, Australia, and others. Your brothers in your land have done well so take them as role models and do as they have done.”
Thousands of government troops are battling hundreds of insurgents who overran Marawi on May 23, flying black ISIS flags and using up to 2,000 civilians as human shields.
Fierce fighting in the city has left a total of 58 soldiers and police and more than 20 civilians dead, according to the military which estimates that almost 200 jihadists have been killed.
The ISIS spokesman also congratulated the perpetrators of last week’s attacks in Iran.
Seventeen people were killed and dozens were wounded when armed men and suicide bombers attacked Tehran’s parliament complex and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on June 7, the first strikes claimed by the group in Iran.
The five attackers were killed.
Despite assurances that the government would soon take back all of Marawi City, Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez said that extremists were still in control of 10 of the city’s 96 barangays.
In a video report, the IS news agency Amaq said the military had “completely failed” in a first effort to regain the city.
“Islamic State fighters are spread in more than two-thirds of Marawi and tighten the chokehold on the Philippine Army that is incapable of maintaining control of the situation,” it said.
The same video report obtained by Washington-based SITE Intelligence Group showed a clip of the execution of six Christians who were shot in the head.
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla slammed the report as “pure propaganda.”
“Should we take their word that they control two-thirds of Marawi? With 202 confirmed terrorists killed why should we even give them the chance of airing their lies?” he said.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella added that “enemy resistance continues to dwindle and enemy- held areas are getting smaller” as the troops try to advance in rebel-controlled areas.
“[Our] troops continue to gain important footholds [into] the inner areas of terrorist held areas,” Abella said.
After the military missed several deadlines to retake Marawi, Abella said a new timeline would be followed.
Earlier, Solicitor-General Jose Calida said the government already received information that the Maute group had planned to raze Marawi City and hoist the ISIS flag over it and declare the city an Islamic territory on May 26.
Abella said the situation in Marawi could have been worse had government forces not acted decisively,
“There were details of the plot, yes, that’s exactly why they started to take action,” he said.
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial on Tuesday said some P37.82 million worth of logistics and financial assistance has been given to hospitals and evacuation centers in Marawi City.
She said the department would continue to provide essential health services even in conflict areas.
In Marawi, 4,317 families or 20,754 people are staying in 64 evacuation centers, and 42,672 families or 207,622 people are staying with relatives or friends in nearby regions.
Also on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ordered the flag flown at half-staff in all courts nationwide to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers in the ongoing clash between government troops and members of the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City. With Rey E. Requejo, Macon Ramos-Araneta and AFP
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