Postcards from the front

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In Marawi, deserted and in ruins, the fighting sooner or later will cease. But for the survivors, that’s when problems will begin. They’ve lost everything.

In the entrance hall of the Marawi municipal building, a group of soldiers are busy eating a snack. An officer addresses them: “Gentlemen, yesterday we lost a man on the bridge, shot by a sniper. When you get there you must run as fast as you can for 40 metres or so; the enemy is nearby and will try and take you out. The bridge, like other areas, is out in the open, and the light armoured vehicles, which are vulnerable to RPGs and anti-tank systems, cannot be deployed”.

After three months of siege, the city is mostly in ruins. The fighting is door to door, one yard at a time. Every inch of ground wrested from the enemy risks becoming a tragedy unless the advance takes place with the utmost caution. The devastation is mind-boggling. Entire buildings have been gutted by aerial bombings, walls are breached, houses left in tatters by rockets and heavy machine gun fire.

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