Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson of the Philippine Army claims Daesh’s (Islamic State) invasion of Marawi City and the spiraling security crisis the sudden attack spawned is “not the reason” Brig. Gen. Nixon Fortes, the general tasked with combating hostile elements on the island of Mindanao, has been let go.
However, an (unnamed) source told Reuters the decision was indeed driven by the commander’s failure to marshal troops to Mindanao island’s Marawi City despite substantial intelligence indicating the Maute criminal syndicate and foreign jihadists were assembling there.
If true, the lapse isn’t the only unforced error anti-Daesh forces in the Philippines have committed over the past few days.
The general’s ouster occurs just two day after a government bomb accidentally “missed” its Daesh target and “hit our troops,” killing 11 government soldiers, the Philippine defense secretary said. Two bombs were intended for Daesh positions, “but the second one missed … there must be some mistake there,” Secretary Delfin Lorenzana explained, according to CNN Philippines.
So far, the eleven days of fighting between the insurgents and government forces in Marawi City has resulted in the deaths of 19 civilians, 120 insurgents and 39 Philippine security personnel.
“If there’s open defiance, you will die,” Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has told the militants.
The president, who is from Mindanao, has admitted that some of his family members pledge loyalty to Daesh.
“I have cousins on the other side,” Duterte said in an outspoken end-of-year interview. “You are you and I am me and I said, ‘if we meet in one corner, so be it,'” he continued. The belligerent leader, who declared 60 days of martial law on Mindanao, has threatened to literally eat terrorists as long their remains are seasoned with salt and vinegar.
Government forces expect to miss their deadline to eradicate the uprising by the end of Friday, defense officials said. Spokesman Restituto Padilla said “I don’t think we can meet the deadline to completely free Marawi of every single armed element on every street.”
Last week, the government declared that they were officially under invasion and that Marawi had fallen to Daesh militants occupying a majority of the city’s strategic positions, Sputnik reported.
The pro-Islamic State factions, Abu Sayyaf and Maute, are led by emir Isnilon Hapilon. Both have long been active in the Philippines, with Abu Sayyaf maintaining a campaign of high-profile kidnappings and executions.
Hours before the invasion began, Duterte told RT the US in general and CIA in particular sought to disrupt and destabilize his administration. The attack begun as Duterte was meeting with Putin. Days before the meeting with Putin, Duterte said he would restore better relations with China, as they were more important partner than the US. Are the Philipines undergoing a CIA backed regime change?