“Deprive the militants of the opportunity to resupply so that the siege cannot last for long”: Chairman Iqbal

A top official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) told Mindanews on July 11, that ending the Marawi siege will require cutting the militants’ resupply route, MILF Information and Peace panel Chief Mohagher Iqbal described the Marawi fighting as turning into war of attrition that there a need to “deprive the militants of the opportunity to resupply (so that) the siege cannot last for long.”

“If that is achieved, the militants will only be left with the will to fight. In war, that alone cannot take you far,” he added.

The MILF has downplayed the capacity of Islamic State-inspired militants to besiege Marawi City for an extended period, expecting the war to end soonest, said the report by Mindanews.

Iqbal explained that unlike revolutionary organizations, the Maute group and its allied forces are “not an established army hence these are dependent on volunteers”, Iqbal told the popular online paper.

“And absent a clear political agenda, it is difficult to generate a horde of volunteers who will fight to the death in battle. By contrast, the MILF has a deeper reserve of fighters but its military activities are calibrated on the basis of its political objective”, Iqbal told Mindanews over the phone.

Weeks of war has wrought havoc on Marawi’s public infrastructure and private properties, either razed down by militants or destroyed by aerial and artillery bombardments.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has ordered the Armed Forces to flush the militants out of Marawi in time for the second State of the Nation Address of President Duterte on July 24.

The military earlier said the space under the militants’ control has constricted significantly, estimating it to be about a square kilometer or about a hundred hectares which mainly spanned across the besieged city’s commercial districts.