Task Force Marawi: Maute hostages forced to fight gov't troops

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Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force Marawi.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 17) — The military on Sunday said hostages of the ISIS-inspired terror group Maute are being forced to fight government troops in Marawi.

"Doon sa mga naunang mga reports na nakuha natin, some of the hostages, especially 'yung mga lalaki at 'yung mga able-bodied ay pinwersa ng Maute na makipaglaban na rin sa government forces," Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force Marawi, said this as he reported the recovery of the Bato Mosque.

[Translation:In earlier reports that we got, some of the hostages, especially the men and the able-bodied ones, were forced by the Maute to fight government forces.]

He said the hostages were initially ordered around to cook, wash dishes and clothes, carry ammunition and dig up trenches, but later, there were given guns to fight.

Brawner, however, said: "If they are bearing arms, and they're fighting against the government forces, they are considered combatants, and they will be treated as such."

Under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), of which the Philippines is a signatory to, taking of hostages is prohibited and considered a war crime.

Troops retook Bato mosque and Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation (JIMF), two Maute strongholds, Saturday.

Brawner said one soldier was killed and seven were wounded in the battle to push the terrorists out of the mosque. Intense firefight continues in areas surrounding it.

Related: Military attempts to retake Bato Ali Mosque

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commander refused to comment on the rescue of Father Chito Soganub, a Catholic priest held captive by the Maute rebels since May 23.

Read more: Abducted priest rescued in Marawi, authorities say

"Kaya hindi po kami pwedeng magbigay ng detalye [The reason why we can't give out details], because it might compromise it might jeopardize our rescue operations. And it could also mean that the hostages could be harmed, or could be killed, and it could also bring harm to our rescuing team," Brawner said.

Brawner said there are about 40 to 60 remaining hostages.

He added they have not found any hostages inside the Bato mosque, but found a body of Maute group member.

They also found several improvised explosive devices in the area, as well as cellphones which can be used to trigger the bombs.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Eduardo Año also said in a statement Saturday that the retaking of the two Maute strongholds has "further weakened" the terror group.