Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared a southern city "liberated from terrorists´ influence" but the military said the five-month battle against militants loyal to the Daesh group was not yet over.
"I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorists, we can now proceed to the rehabilitation", said President Duterte before government forces in Marawi City.
Defense officials announced Monday that two of the last leaders of the siege - Isnilon Hapilon, who is one of the FBI's most-wanted terror suspects, and Omarkhayam Maute - were killed in a gunbattle.
"What remains now is mopping up operations against Maute-ISIS stragglers in a small area".
Hours after the May 23 terrorists' attack, Duterte declared martial law for 60 days on the entire island of Mindanao.
Hapilon, also a key leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group notorious for beheading hostages who were unable to pay ransom money, carries a US$5 million bounty from the United States and about US$195,000 from the Philippine government.
"This is a challenge we have already begun preparing for, but we now need to double our efforts to immediately jumpstart the local economy and restore the livelihood of Marawi residents once the conflict has come to an end", Gatchalian said. The health department said in July that 40 civilians died of sickness in government-run evacuation centers in nearby provinces. A total of 1771 hostages were reportedly rescued by government troops.
President Rodrigo Duterte visited the battle-scarred Islamic city on Tuesday and announced its liberation, sparking hopes that hundreds of thousands of residents could finally return home after being displaced for almost five months by a bloody siege. President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the south, scene of decades- old Muslim separatist uprising, to deal with the siege, the worst crisis he has faced since rising to power in June previous year. The two along with Maute's brother, Abdullah, with the help of Indonesian and Malaysian extremists, took mover the city since.
He said 854 militants have now been killed in the fighting, which broke out on May 23, along with 163 soldiers and policemen and 47 civilians.
A damaged building in seen in Sultan Omar Dianalan boulevard at Mapandi district in Marawi city, southern Philippines, on Sept 13, 2017.
"This victory marks the end of the siege in Marawi, but it also means the beginning of a long but necessary process of healing and recovery among our people", Hataman said. He has vowed to have the militants killed to the last man because of the deaths and destruction wrought by the violence in Marawi.
Asked by reporters if Duterte´s declaration was symbolic, Brawner said: "Yes, because we can not really say that (the area) is 100 percent cleared".
The senator also expressed hope that the firefighting will soon end so the government can immediately lift Martial Law and finally focus on rebuilding and developing Marawi City.