Small Wars Journal

Marawi Insurgents Used 'Rat-Like' Tactics, Including Tunnels to Sewers, During Urban Warfare Against Philippine Troops

Marawi Insurgents Used 'Rat-Like' Tactics, Including Tunnels to Sewers, During Urban Warfare Against Philippine Troops - Agence France-Presse via South China Morning Post

The main battle zone in a southern Philippine city seized by Islamic State (IS) supporters resembles a tsunami-hit wasteland, with bullet-riddled mosques and a network of tunnels testifying to their hide-and-kill tactics.

Two days after the military declared an end to the five-month conflict in which more than 1,100 people died, scrawny feral dogs and swallows flying above the ruins were among the few signs of life in Marawi’s devastated neighbourhoods.

Many buildings were piles of grey rubble as if crushed by a tsunami roaring in from Lake Lanao just behind them.

The pink minaret of one mosque was so riddled with bullets that most of its plaster had been stripped off and just its iron beams remained.

When the gunmen initially rampaged through Marawi, the principal Islamic city in the mainly Catholic Philippines, military commanders expected a relatively brief battle and were surprised at their enemies’ ability to hold out for so long.

The military maintained near-daily bombings, with state-of-the-art American radar helping to identify targets, yet the militants could often dodge the explosions.

A brief tour for journalists on Wednesday revealed some of their rat-like survival techniques, including the digging of holes through concrete floors up to 25cm thick.

These connected to the city’s drainage system, allowing them to scurry to nearby buildings undetected, according to commanders who fought the ground war…

Read on.