Sri Lanka military vows to ‘annihilate’ LTTE in east then north
[TamilNet, Thursday, 04 January 2007, 14:02 GMT]
After taking control of the eastern province in the next two months, Sri Lanka’s military will recapture the areas held by the Liberation Tigers in the north of the island, the Army (SLA) Chief said this week.
SLA chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka addressing troops on New Year's Day. [Photo: SLA]
On Wednesday Lt. Gen. Fonseka visited the Army headquarters in the island’s east to set the military strategy in motion.
On Tuesday Lt. Gen. Fonseka vowed to totally “liberate” the north soon after his forces “rescued the eastern region from the LTTE,” the Daily Mirror reported.
“After eradicating the Tigers from the East, full strength would be used to rescue the North,” the Army Commander was quoted as saying.
Lt. Gen. Fonseka was speaking after he visited the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) where he paid homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic and also paid a courtesy call on the top Buddhist priests “who blessed the Army Commander expressed the wish that peace be dawned at least this year as the people have suffered enough,” the Daily Mirror reported.
On Wednesday, accompanied by Sri Lanka’s Chief Of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera, Lt. Gen. Fonseka met with senior commanders of the SLA’s 23 Division based in Welikanda, Polonnaruwa in the island’s east.
In his New Year’s address, Lt. Gen. Foneseka praised his soldiers for fighting “in a disciplined and committed way protecting human rights” in the face of provocations by “those barbaric separatist elements.”
“We have come forward in order to annihilate the common enemy for separation and protect the territorial integrity of our Sri Lankan Motherland and her nation,” he said.
The Sri Lankan military’s publicly stated plans have effectively rendered the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE defunct.
However Sri Lanka’s political and military establishment are not perturbed as they are confident the LTTE’s strength has been exaggerated and the Tigers can be defeated by sustained military action.
The government believes the LTTE’s repeated failure to hold positions it had vowed to defend against Colombo’s military are indicative of the Tigers’ weakness.
In an informal year-end interaction with the local and foreign media in Colombo, Lt. Gen. Fonseka had said that the Security Forces would be able to take the strategic eastern coastal towns of Vaharai and Kadirweli in about a month.
Only the rains and the slushy terrain were preventing the tri-services from launching an offensive to capture the two objectives, he said.
Lt. Gen. Fonseka said the LTTE had only about 800 fully-trained fighters in the East in addition to a militia of about 2,000.
According to the Daily Mirror’s defence column Wednesday, the SLA has set itself a mid February deadline to destroy key LTTE camps in the East.
“The military top brass therefore is convinced that that it would be able to bring the LTTE down to its knees on all counts, if the forces can maintain the present military momentum till July this year, though it admits it will take years to wipe out the residual LTTE pockets.”
“There is anticipation that there will be a crucial battle in June/ July period in the North most probably in Muhamalai once again,” the Daily Mirror said, referring to the frontline in the Jaffna peninsula which has seen heavy fighting in the past four months.
“The military is confident that they can secure a convincing victory during this confrontation which comes after the consolidation of power in the East,” the paper said.
“Even otherwise any major losses to the LTTE cadre strength during the battle, the forces think, would cause a critical set back to a weakened LTTE.”
“A chance of the LTTE agreeing for a compromise this time around in order to avoid a confrontation and a resultant depletion of cadre strength is also not ruled out,” the paper said.
“However no change would be expected in the government military strategy.”