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the month-long battle for control of Marawi City drags on, the Philippines' army says its got Islamist rebels backed into a corner. According to officials on Thursday, the militants fire power is growing weaker and their numbers have dropped to just over 100. Reuters Correspondent Simon Lewis is on the ground.
>> This morning I've been talking to a commanding officer near the front lines here in Marawi. He told me that the army is really closing in on the militants here. They say they've gotten them down to a space of about one square kilometer. But the militants still hold strategic positions, and they still have snipers on high buildings and in mosques, and they're using civilians as human shields according to the army.
But the officer told me they think that the militants are running out of ammunition. So their confident that they will be able to clear them from the city soon.>> It's the news the country has been wanting to hear. The siege has gone on far longer than expected, and there are fears that many more extremists could join the fight if it's not over by this weekend, when the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end.
Officials say an estimated 3 to 500 people are still trapped in Marawi, cut off from contact with no power or water, and afraid of either being captured by the militants or being hit by bombs dropped by military aircraft. Troops are moving house to house to clear out the rebels, but the military says they've been slowed down by traps, including cooking gas tanks rigged to explode.
Also on Thursday, word that Indonesia and Malaysia are launching joint naval patrols alongside Manila, worried that rebels flushed out of Marawi could flee across neighboring borders.