MANILA -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Friday set the country's 119th Independence Day anniversary on June 12 as the next deadline for liberating the southern city of Marawi from militants aligned with Islamic State.
As the battle for Marawi entered its 17th day, three villages remained under the control of Maute, a local rebel group backed by fighters from other parts of Southeast Asia and the Middle East, according to officials.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters that troops "continue to gain more foothold in the inner areas of the city" and "enemy resistance is dwindling by the day."
According to Army Spokesperson Restituto Padilla, General Eduardo Ano, the chief of staff, said that by Monday national flags will be waved freely in "every corner of Marawi."
"The end game is to have them arrested, if we can," said Padilla. "But if we cannot, then [we will] neutralize them."
The military missed its earlier June 2 deadline to wipe out the militants, and deployed additional troops from Manila to join the fighting.
The battle began on May 23 when Maute militants fired at soldiers attempting to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf leader who has been described as the "emir" of Islamic State in Southeast Asia.
In more than two weeks of fighting, at least 202 people have been killed: 134 militants, 38 troops, and 30 civilians. Around 200,000 people have fled Marawi, a commercial and educational hub in the south.
Fighting broke out while President Rodrigo Duterte was on a visit to Russia. Temporary martial law has been declared for 60 days in Mindanao, one of the three main islands in the Philippines. The region has been beset by a homegrown Muslim insurgency for decades.
Because of the siege, local carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Air have reported ticket cancellations, and travel agencies fear a negative impact on tourism. Government sources do not expect the crisis to affect economic growth, however. Mindanao contributes around 20% to the economy, which grew 6.4% year on year in the first quarter, and the fighting is confined to Marawi for now.