Filipino says rebels in city down to 60
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine military said Friday that only about 60 pro-Islamic State militants are still fighting in the southern city of Marawi, where the two-month battle has left 630 people dead and swaths of the Islamic region in ruins.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said most of the militants’ leaders are believed to be still with the main group of gunmen fighting in an area less than half a square mile. Despite the militants’ setbacks, officials still couldn’t say when the violence will end.
“Our troops are in a very high state of morale, all leaning forward to finish this operation at the soonest time possible,” Padilla said in a news conference in Manila.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said he ordered troops to refrain from staging an assault to ensure the safety of hostages still held by the gunmen, possibly in a mosque. As of the 67th day of fighting, 471 militants, 114 troops and police and 45 civilians have been killed, according to the military.
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with a Soyuz MS-05 spaceship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station blasts off Friday at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Randy Bresnik, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli.