Army took a month to retake Marawi’s Grand Mosque but it was worth it

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AFP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., said it took the government troops almost a month to retake the Grand Mosque or the Islamic Center from the terrorist Maute group because they wanted to preserve the place of worship.

“We did not conduct a frontal attack because we wanted to preserve the Grand Mosque, owing to the promise of our Commander-in-Chief, the President, and our Chief of Staff, who strongly provided guidance not to destroy any place of worship even if international protocols would allow us to do that,” Padilla said during the regular Mindanao Hour briefing in Malacañang.

“We met resistance in the surrounding areas over that less than a month of time, until we got to that point when we were able to assault the Grand Mosque,” Padilla explained.

The AFP official said the government forces were now clearing the Grand Mosque of unexploded ordnance and IEDs.

“The Grand Mosque is located in the central area of Marawi. It is the most significant landmark because it being the biggest mosque in the area,” Padilla said.

“So having it under the hands of government provides us the impetus to symbolically say that nakuha na natin ‘yung sentro mismo ng bayan,” he said.

Aside from the Grand Mosque, Padilla said government troops were able to retake the Marawi City Police Station.

Padilla said the battle area has been reduced to about one-half square kilometer grid.(PNA)