A Philippine air force plane drops a bomb in an airstrike on Daesh position in the city of Marawi, June 24, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The Philippines’ military
has declared a short ceasefire in the southern, Muslim-majority city of Marawi, where government forces are fighting Daesh terrorists.
Military chief General Eduardo Ano said his forces would implement a “humanitarian pause” lasting eight hours in the war-torn city on Sunday to allow residents to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Fasting Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to nightfall during Ramadan.
“We declare a lull in our current operations in the city on that day as a manifestation of our high respect to the Islamic faith,” Ano said in a statement.
Military operations in Marawi began when hundreds of militants waving black Daesh flags rampaged through the city on May 23, torching buildings and taking people hostage.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte immediately imposed martial law across the entire southern region of Mindanao, where 20 million people live and where Marawi is located. Aerial and ground offensives were soon launched against the militants in the city.
Government forces have been careful not to imply that the fight is against Muslims. They have been given orders, for example, not to hit mosques in the Muslim-majority Marawi.
People displaced by the fighting in Marawi take part in mass prayer ceremony during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in Iligan City, on the southern island of Mindanao, June 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The fighting has lingered on in part because the terrain is urban even as most of its 200,000 residents have fled to evacuation centers or to the houses of relatives and friends elsewhere.
Meanwhile, President Duterte has apologized for the military offensive, which has left the nation’s main Muslim city in ruins, but said it was needed to crush the Daesh militants.
Duterte has also vowed that the offensive would continue.
The death toll from the fighting has reportedly climbed to 370 people, most of them having been Daesh militants.