Getting the local ISIS affiliate out of the city of Marawi remains a top priority for the Philippines Army, but one that’s taking a lot longer than anyone expected, with promises by officials of a resolution within a matter of days now a distant memory as the fight enters its fourth week.
A city of 200,000 people at the start of all of this, Marawi is now virtually destroyed in many parts, and more than 200 people have been killed in an effort to expel the ISIS forces, and the growing number of bombing runs have locals convinced that the goal now is to “destroy the city to save it.”
That’s not good for anyone, let alone the hundreds of civilians still struggling to flee the city. Though large portions of the population managed to get out in the first couple of days of the siege, the last stragglers are facing sniper fire and airstrikes in trying to get away.
That’s fueling allegations they’re being used as human shields by the militants, and while that may be the case to some extent, the Philippines military’s increasing use of airstrikes suggest they’re less and less concerned about avoiding civilian casualties in the first place, and more focused on trying to wrap up what has become a long, embarrassing siege.