Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday that the country’s city of Marawi has been liberated from ISIS-affiliated militants after a five-month deadly clash with the army.
CNN quoted Duterte as saying “I hereby declare the liberation of Marawi”.
The announcement of the city’s liberation comes one day after the country’s Defense Secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said two leading militants, Ipsilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, were killed in a firefight.
Hapilon was the leader of the Abu Sayyaf terror group, and was named by ISIS as the group’s emir in Southeast Asia.
Omar Maute was one of the two leaders of the Maute group, along with his brother Abdullah, the main militant force behind the siege.
More than 800 militants and 162 government security forces have been killed in the nearly 150 days of fighting, said Gen. Eduardo Ano, of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
During the fighting, about 1,700 hostages were rescued, including 20 on Monday, he added.
Parts of the Muslim-majority city, on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, had been under the control of the Islamist Maute group since a shock invasion by militants at the end of May.
The violence forced more than 350,000 residents to flee the city and the surrounding areas, as their homes were reduced to rubble by airstrikes and militant fire.
Read more: CNN