The five-month battle against ISIS-linked terrorists in southern Philippines could be over in just be a few days.
Philippine forces are completing their final push to retake Marawi City. And they dealt a major blow to the Maute terrorist group when they killed two of its top commanders.
Isnilon Hapilon, leader of ISIS in southeast Asia and Omar Maute of the Maute terrorist clan were both killed in a government assault.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced the pending victory to a cheering crowd in Mindanao.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from terrorists' influence. That marks the beginning of rehabilitation," he declared.
Although 20 to 30 ISIS-linked terrorists are still holed up in the city, military officials say they have weakened because they are now leaderless.
The fighting dragged on for nearly five months and killed more than 1000 people, including more than 800 extremists and some 160 soldiers and policemen.
Philippine troops continue to pursue the armed elements and rescue hostages held during the fighting. They're also conducting clearing operations to ensure the safety of the returning residents.
The war has turned the once bustling city of Marawi into rubble and has displaced more than 400,000 residents.
it will take a much longer time before people can return to normal lives. But in this period of rebuilding, CBN Humanitarian and Disaster Relief is committed to help.
Dr. Kim Pascual, director of CBN Humanitarian explained, "We poured our efforts to communities, to families. We will give them livelihood so they can sustain themselves.” .
CBN Humanitarian has begun feeding programs and children’s zones where children undergo trauma counseling and are taught the importance of living in peace.
And contrary to the ISIS-inspired plan to establish an Islamic state in Marawi, God has used the war to make the city more open to the Gospel as the people experienced the love and care of Christians in their time of need.
Pascual added, "This is a great opportunity for us to come together and show them God’s love as they rebuild their lives. This is the time we want to reclaim Marawi for our Lord Jesus Christ,"