Marawi siege: Christians borrowing Muslims' hijabs to escape from ISIS violence

Christians in Marawi City have been forced to borrow hijabs from their Muslim neighbors just to escape from the violence at the hands of Maute fighters, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

(REUTERS / Erik De Castro)A view of the Maute group stronghold with an ISIS flag in Marawi City in southern Philippines May 29, 2017.

Three weeks after ISIS-inspired terrorists stormed Marawi City, the military estimates that between 300 and 500 people are still trapped inside the besieged town. Many of them have been forced to eat their blankets just to survive, while there were others who made daring escapes to avoid starving to death while the military continued on with their offensives, the Daily Mail reports.

Doctors who treated the refugees from Marawi City admired the resilience of these people amidst the horrific violence all around them. Psychosocial therapy team head Dr. Gioia Ancheta said there were stories that struck them about how Muslims let their Christian neighbors borrow their hijabs just to protect them from the militants.

Meanwhile, Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez said on June 13 that ISIS militants now hold only 20 percent of Marawi City. This was contrary to the militant group's claim that it controlled the majority of the besieged city, Philstar detailed.

Galvez added that the ISIS-controlled areas in Marawi are shrinking day by day. There are four barangays that still harbor between 150 and 200 militants, but military offensives and airstrikes have indeed weakened the terrorists' forces.

Speaking from the Malacañang Palace, presidential spokesman Eduardo Abella said the situation in Marawi "would have been worse" if the government did not respond quickly. He praised the military for its prompt action.

"The early action of the military and the government has actually preempted their plans to be able to capture the city. So we need to credit that," Abella said in a press briefing. "Yes, there were (intelligence reports) but it was something that had to be vetted and to be authorized properly."

Abella also defended the military from critics who say it had failed to achieve its target of ending the clashes in Marawi by June 12, the Philippine Independence Day. He said the government forces will not stop until the fight is finished.