|Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)|
MANILA, Philippines — Troops have captured a key bridge leading to the main position of Islamic State group-linked Maute militants in Marawi City but won't stage a major assault and will instead press efforts to rescue civilian hostages, an official said Monday.
Government troops gained control last week of Mapandi bridge, which leads to Marawi's interior business district, where just 40 to 60 remaining militants are believed to be holding 80 to 100 hostages, mostly in a large mosque, said military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla. But a major assault wasn't imminent, he said.
"We now have direct access to ground zero," Padilla said at a news conference in Manila, referring to the bridge over Marawi's Agus River that can now be used to rapidly transport troops and combat supplies. "Our main objective is to rescue the hostages."
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