Military retakes last Marawi bridge from Mautes

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Marawi (CNN Philippines, September 23) — Government troops recovered Friday another bridge in war-torn Marawi, the third and last bridge soldiers have been seeking to retake from Maute terrorists since the fighting began.

Sources told CNN Philippines the military now holds the Raya Madaya or Masiu Bridge, the bridge closest to Lake Lanao, a possible escape route of terrorists.

"Maaaring gamitin nila ang bridge na ito para tumakas from the main battle area (They can use this bridge to escape from the main battle area). That's why it's important that we control, we have full control of this feature," Joint Task Force Marawi Deputy Commander Col. Romeo Brawner said in a press briefing Friday.

The military, however, has yet to make an official announcement on the recovery of the bridge.

Photos show the Philippine flag is now hoisted on a building across the Raya Madaya Bridge near the main battle area.

The military took full control of Mapandi or Balo-i Bridge on July 29 and the Banggolo or Bayabao Bridge on September 1.

The Marines have also occupied buildings along the riverside, sources said. These were areas where troops experienced strong resistance from Maute terrorists, four months since the fighting began.

Government troops scour all buildings they occupy to make sure these are cleared from enemies and home-made bombs.

While troops are gaining more ground in Marawi, they also face more danger as they wind down operations to end the terror crisis. 

The military said around 50 Maute fighters are constrained in an area less than 10 hectares, but their resistance has become stronger.

Fighting is expected to intensify during the "final push," the Armed Forces earlier said.

A total of 689 members of the ISIS-linked Maute group, 151 troops, and 47 civilians have been killed in Marawi since May 23, when clashes between soldiers and terrorists began, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law throughout Mindanao.

The terrorists are still holding around 60 hostages, some of them are being forced to fight soldiers, according to the military.