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End of Marawi siege seen

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Defense and military officials yesterday said they hope to end the conflict in Marawi City in a couple of days.

In a text message, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said as far as they are concerned, Marawi should be cleared of militants by Thursday, June 1.

“Yes, I am updated regularly. The timetable is one week from May 25 to June 1,” Lorenzana said. “Yes, we are on track.”

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said they hope to clear Marawi as soon as possible and bring normalcy back there.

“Our soldiers are focused and working hard to ensure that Maute Group, and those supporting this terror organization, are neutralized,” Año said.

“For now, I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to the families of our soldiers and policemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our efforts to clear Marawi. Rest assured that their sacrifices will not be in vain as we move forward in our operations,” he added.

Armed Forces Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo echoed Año’s position. “We are hoping in a matter of days we can resolve this. However, that will depend in the situation on the ground. As days go by, there are intervening factors that come in which we cannot factor. That’s why it hard to give any assurance on how many days it will be,” Arevalo said.

He said that security is tight in and out of the city. “It is a challenge for us to prevent enemy reinforcements from coming to the city as they may also disguise themselves as civilians. At the same time, we have intensified our checkpoint operations to check the possibility of Maute-ISIS members who may escape by blending in with the evacuees,” Arevalo said. (FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD)