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Satellite images reveal devastation of Marawi City



Satellite images have revealed the extent of the damage done to Marawi since terrorists began their rampage through the city under the black flag of Islamic State.

The images show flattened city blocks, government artillery placements and a huge crater next to the dome of an unscathed Islamic centre.

The images have been published by Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence website and show the extent of the damage inflicted by airstrikes and militants since fighting broke out on May 23.

About half the neighbourhoods in the city have sustained serious damage.

The most striking thing is the extent of the damage, says Sim Tack, a senior analyst at Stratfor told CNN.

“We didn’t expect it to be that big. We heard about the airstrikes and artillery but it’s pretty bad throughout the city,” he says.

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“When I’ve looked at other war zones, the closest thing to compare Marawi to is Mosul in Iraq. I haven’t seen battlefields where all houses were destroyed like that.”

Scott Stewart, vice president of analysis at Stratfor, said the Philippine military had “no choice” but to hit the city as hard as they had.

“We saw in Iraq and Syria what happens when you don’t move fast to dislodge militants from urban areas that they have taken,” he explained.

However, he added that at least some of the damage had been caused by the jihadists. “You can see ongoing fires. But the level of damage lines up with artillery barrage and airstrikes.”

One of the few buildings to remain intact is the Masjed Mindanao Islamic Center, in what could have been a deliberate move by authorities.

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“The Philippines has taken on a similar approach to the US in modern conflicts, trying not to damage the mosques so not to be perceived as waging a war on Islam,” Mr Tack said.

Images on the outskirts of the city, to the east and northwest, show AFP (army) artillery positions, which Mr Tack says is consistent with the tactics that the government has been employing.

“We didn’t notice any big groups of military vehicles, basically we saw little groups of cargo trucks around the city,” he says.

“If you look at how the AFP has been fighting this lines up with this, house-by-house, street-by-street with infantrymen on the ground, supported by airstrikes and artillery.”

Mr Stewart said that after the liberation of the city, there would then be a “real battle for hearts and minds” to ensure the destruction of the city is not blamed on the government. If successful, this would have a “deleterious effect” on Islamic State’s attempts to build a new stronghold in the southern Philippines.

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Mr Tack said it was now down to President Duterte to win over the residents of the city. “I think it’s notable that you already see him talking about reconstruction funds, trying to own the narrative — IS will say that the AFP destroyed the city,” he said.

“The counter-narrative is reconstruction, they’re going to be the fixers of Marawi rather than the destroyers.”

2 Comments on "Satellite images reveal devastation of Marawi City"

  1. > “The Philippines has taken on a similar approach to the US in modern conflicts, trying not to damage the mosques so not to be perceived as waging a war on Islam,”

    Incredibly foolish decision. Just where do you think their ammo and weapons are being stored?

  2. One short comment only..: Never trust islamists regardless of the degree of their radicalization…..

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