Philippines Urges ISIS-Linked Islamist Militants to Surrender Marawi After Eight-Day Siege

The Philippines' army has called for Islamist rebels who took over the southern city of Marawi on May 22 to surrender, after a week of street clashes and aerial strikes against the group.

More than 90 percent of Marawi's 200,000-strong population have fled to the neighboring city of Iligan, 24 miles away, since last Tuesday, when the Maute group raised black flags of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). More than 100 people have died so far in the fighting in Marawi's streets and aerial bombardment by the army and 2,000 people are currently trapped in rebel-held areas and unable to leave the city.

On Tuesday, military spokesperson Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla spoke on DZBB radio and urged the rebels to lay down their weapons.

"We are giving those inside an opportunity to surrender," he said, according to the Straits Times. "There is still a chance to lay down your arms. If you do that, it will be better so no one else will be dragged into this, no more buildings will be destroyed."

In a bid to retake Marawi from the Islamists, the army fired rockets from attack helicopters for the eight days. "Precision airstrikes are [being] judiciously used to prevent collateral damage and employed at specific targets of resistance to protect our troops and hasten clearing of the city of terrorist elements who continue to resist," said Brig Gen Padilla in a statement reported by CNN.

On Monday, Padilla said that troops were in "complete control of the city except for certain areas." He added that there were around 40-50 armed elements left in the city, but this number may be larger as rebels released 100 prisoners from a local jail, the BBC reported.

President Duterte declared martial law across the whole of Mindanao, a southern, Muslim-majority area after the group took the city. He warned that militant groups were uniting under the ISIS flag, posing a greater threat to security in the Philippines, according to the Straits Times.

Duterte's decision to implement martial law has been controversial, as it gives greater control and decision making powers to president to direct the military, without having to jump through the usual democratic hoops.

Police introduced a curfew in Iligan City between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. in a bid to prevent violence from spreading.

The Maute group is an Islamic militant group that, along with Abu Sayyaf, has pledged allegiance to ISIS. The Philippines has a mostly Catholic population, but Marawi is known as the "Islamic City," because of its Muslim-majority population.