MANILA, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday that retaking the remaining part of the southern Philippine city of Marawi still under the control of militants is "proving to be a challenge" to government security forces.
"Admittedly, retaking the very last positions of the Maute-ISIS who are still in Marawi is proving to be a challenge," Lorenzana said in a statement, referring to the Maute group extremists.
"We have to operate with due consideration for the safety of the civilians who are still trapped in the area against enemies who know rules, who use hostages as human shields and children as frontline fighters," he added.
However, Lorenzana stressed that the government's resolve to end the 52-day conflict has not wavered.
"In fact, we are now more determined than ever to finally eliminate these terrorists, and we will not stop until evil is vanquished, not only in Marawi City, but also in the whole of Mindanao," he said.
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