SLA offensive threatens peace process - LTTE

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 16 January 2001, 13:31 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers said Tuesday that their troops were fiercely resisting a major offensive by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in the Jaffna peninsula. The LTTE also said in a statement from its London offices that the organisation had earlier informed the Norwegian peace envoy of the impending offensive and requested him to impress upon the Sri Lanka government that such military action will intensify the conflict and seriously impair the current peace initiatives.

Following is the full text of the press release:

"The Sri Lankan armed forces launched a major offensive operation today against the LTTE's defence positions along the Kilaly-Eluthumadduval-Nagar Kovil axis in the southern most sector of the Jaffna Peninsula.

"Thousands of Sri Lankan combat troops supported by battle tanks and heavy artillery launched an offensive assault in the early hours of the morning today. Soviet and Israeli made MIG fighters and Kfir bombers continues to provide aerial cover to the Sri Lankan combat columns.

"Heavy fighting continued all day as the LTTE fighting formations put up fierce resistance. The LTTE is committed to a defence war as the organisation has declared a unilateral cessation of hostilities for a month ending on the 24th January and strictly observing peace.

"The LTTE leadership has conveyed to the Norwegian peace envoy Mr. Erik Solheim through their chief negotiator in London, Mr. Anton Balasingham, of an impending all-out military offensive and requested him to impress upon Sri Lanka government that such military action will intensify the war and seriously impair the current peace initiatives.

Unable to hold positions on militarily disadvantageous territory with the constraints of a self-imposed cease-fire and other logistic problems, the LTTE made a calculated strategic withdrawal from areas closer to the Jaffna city. Emboldened by the limited victories facilitated by the LTTE's strategic withdrawal the Sri Lankan military establishment has launched the current offensive with the strategic objective of re-taking Elephant Pass."


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