Battle of Marawi: A longest urban battle in Philippines modern history

Eric Sof

The Battle of Marawi was the most extensive urban battle in the Philippines’ modern history. It was also known as the Siege of Marawi and the Marawi Crisis. The battle started on May 23, 2017, and lasted until October 23, 2017. After Philippine forces won the five-month-long battle for Marawi, the Philippines Special Operations Command released a fantastic video compilation explaining the battle while displaying incredible visual footage captured during the siege.


The video gives a little background on how the so-called Islamic State could grab a foothold in the Philippines. The country itself has had its share of problems with Muslim insurgencies since the 1970s, but only recently had those insurgents been the focal point of well-funded, international jihadist groups.

Local Islamist militant groups sponsored by ISIS, launched an assault to capture the city of Marawi and began the Battle of Marawi
Battle of Marawi: Local Islamist militant groups sponsored by ISIS, launched an assault to capture the city of Marawi (Photo: XY)

Malaysia and Indonesia, also infested with radical Islamists, had rebel groups that pledged loyalty to the Islamic State. Through them, they were able to funnel weapons, equipment, and foreign fighters into Malawi, the island Marawi sits upon.

Battle of Marawi

Two local Islamist militant groups, “Maute” and “Abu Sayyaf” sponsored by ISIS, launched an assault to capture the city of Marawi. Armed Forces of the Philippines’ intelligence operatives had caught the early wind of this brewing rebellion and sent a small unit raid to capture terrorist leaders for questioning. They had no idea that they were walking into a well-armed, well-entrenched hive of several hundred insurgents.

The government raid triggered the Islamic State assault to capture the city. The Maute group burned buildings, destroyed churches, and took Christians as hostages. Lines of communication were destroyed and the roads leading in and out of the city were blocked and guarded by snipers.

For several decades, the Philippines’ special forces were constantly trained and supported by US Green Berets. Unlike the US “allies” in the other parts of the world, the Philippines military can be taught and make excellent soldiers. Their leadership, planning, and execution of tactics are on par with the best armies in the world.

Documentary | MARAWI: 153 days of war


For months, the Armed Forces of the Philippines bravely fought street-to-street, house-to-house, and room-to-room in intense close-quarters battles. They improvised RPG armor out of wood on their vehicles and called in airstrikes when necessary and eventually dislodged the Islamists from their prepared fighting positions, killing nearly 1,000 insurgents, at the cost of 165 of their own killed, according to Amnesty International.

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1 thought on “Battle of Marawi: A longest urban battle in Philippines modern history”

  1. Met Many Filipinos in the US Navy, shipboard and
    Discharged there, went to school close by, then had career in chemistry tech. If the women at work liked you, they would give you some of their home-cooked lunch. That happened fairly often. Love these people.
    In WW2 late ’44 my dad served as a 19 year old E6 in Luzon for 6 months until the bomb ceased his squad’s activities. He got a Purple Heart for yellow fever.
    My ship wasn’t attached to the 6th Fleet, so didn’t make it over there.
    Good Luck and keep up your magazine’s great work!

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