|Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)|
MARAWI, Philippines (UPDATED 6 p.m.) — The Philippine military said Sunday it had captured the command center of ISIS group supporters who have besieged Marawi City for nearly four months.
Security forces have engaged in ferocious street-to-street combat and launched airstrikes in their efforts to expel the fighters from Marawi, in a battle that has left 800 dead and raised fears that ISIS is looking to establish a Southeast Asian base in the Philippines.
The military said it had captured the militants' control center in a deadly battle lasting five hours that began Saturday in a mosque and another building.
It added that they have subdued the militants and successfully took back Bato Mosque and Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation, which became Maute strongholds.
"This enormous (military) gain further weakened the terrorist group by denying them their erstwhile command and control hub," military chief General Eduardo Año said in a statement.
"As follow up and clearing operations continue, we expect the enemy to yield more previously occupied positions, but not without a fight," he said. "We are ready for that."
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