DNA test confirms killing of leader of ISIS-affiliated group in Philippines

(CNN) — DNA tests have confirmed that the leader of an ISIS-affiliated terror group was killed in a military operation last month, officials in the Philippines say.

Abu Dar was among a number of militants killed in the southern town of Tubaran, according to CNN Philippines.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a text message on Sunday that the DNA tests confirmed that the remains were his.

Lorenzana added that for now the radical Islamist Maute Group is “leaderless” and that authorities are “monitoring who will replace Dar.”

Dar became the group’s leader after two of its figureheads were killed in the southern city of Marawi during a five-month standoff, according to the Philippine News Agency (PNA). Militants and Philippines forces clashed in 2017 after parts of the Muslim-majority city had fallen under the control of the Islamist group.

The leaders killed were named as Isnilon Hapilon, who was declared the terror group’s emir for Southeast Asia, and Omar Maute, a leader of a local militant group that had pledged allegiance to ISIS. According to CNN Philippines, Dar had appeared beside Hapilon and Maute in a video during a planning session, which authorities believe was for the attack on Marawi city.

More than 800 militants and 162 government security forces were killed during the five-month standoff, the Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Gen. Eduardo Ano said in 2017.

Many homes were reduced to rubble by airstrikes and militant fire during the violence, and more than 350,000 residents were forced to flee the city and surrounding area.

Following the battle, Marawi military commander Col. Romeo Brawner said Dar began recruiting and training new fighters, PNA said.

“He also recruited and trained those whose family members and relatives died during the siege … But they will not be able to continue now because Abu Dar is dead and their remnants, followers and supporters have already surrendered to the military and they are with us now,” said Brawner.

14 APR 19 13:44 ET

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