MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military says troops have captured a key bridge leading to the main position of Islamic State group-linked militants in the southern city of Marawi, but that troops won’t stage a major assault and will instead press efforts to rescue civilian hostages.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said Monday that government troops gained control of Mapandi bridge last week. The bridge leads to Marawi’s interior business district, where just 40 to 60 remaining militants are believed to be holding 80 to 100 hostages, mostly in a large mosque.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered troops to ensure the safety of the hostages and not launch a massive assault that can endanger the hostages even if that prolongs the militant siege that has already dragged for more than two months.