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Final thrust to totally annihilate LTTE

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The LTTE is now on the verge of losing its most assets after it lost control of the airstrips it constructed with high hopes of building an independent homeland in the Vanni. Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran who is dreaming to become the king of this illusionary kingdom is losing all his hideouts as SLAF keeps attacking each and every hideout in the Vanni. Above all, the Tiger leader is no the verge of losing his most vital asset, the Tamil civilians who have been forcibly kept by him with the hope of realising his day dream, since they have commenced abandoning his territory. Therefore the Tiger his last hope for Tamil Eelam

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The Vanni liberation operation reached its most decisive and sensitive phase with troops liberating the entire Jaffna peninsula and the Tiger strongholds Kilinochchi, Paranthan and Elephant Pass. Troops commenced its final push on the LTTE to fully eliminate terrorism from the Sri Lankan soils in the East of A-9 road.


Brigadier Nishshanka Ranawala, Lt Gen Jagath Jayasuriya, Brig Kamal Gunaratne, Brig Shavendra Silva, Brig Prasanna de Silva greeting each other. Picture by Rukmal Gamage

The final stage of the battle is now confined to nearly 600 square kilometres in the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts.

It is certain that there is no escape for the LTTE other than facing certain defeat within the next few weeks.

The coming bottles are most sensitive as Security Forces have to fight the LTTE avoiding a human shield in a terrain to which the Security Forces had never stepped in during the three decade long conflict. They have to pick and fight with a bunch of terrorists who have mingled with nearly a 200,000 civilian population in an unknown terrain. Therefore, the Security Forces face unprecedented challenges. However, experience gained in the past especially in the past two and half years will help the Security Forces to face them successfully.

Escape

The LTTE would not have expected, at any stage, such a massive force would surround them in the Vanni without leaving any room for them to escape as eight battle formations have surrounded the area east of Kilinochchi and west of Mullaitivu.

The thrust on the LTTE has now been increased with the two offensive Divisions, 53 Division under the command of Brigadier Kamal Gunaratne and 55 Division under the command of Brigadier Prasanna Silva which were operating in the Jaffna peninsula. They have come to the Vanni liberation operation after completing their task in the Jaffna peninsula.

Troops of the 55 Division under the command of Brigadier Prasanna Silva captured the last inch of the Jaffna peninsula with the capture of Chundikulam located in the southernmost edge of the Jaffna peninsula which links it with the Mullaitivu district along the Eastern coast.


Troops advancing

They advanced some 40 kilometres from Nagar Kovil defence line in the eastern edge of the Jaffna peninsula towards the South to capture Chundikulam. They passed Mamunai, Thalai Adi, Vatthirayan, and Vettilaikerni Sea Tiger bases along the Eastern coast of the Jaffna peninsula to reach Chundikulam in the southern edge of the peninsula. LTTE had used all these Sea Tiger bases to monitor the movements of the Sri Lanka Navy and to smuggle in arms and ammunition to the Jaffna peninsula. At the last stages of the Jaffna battle LTTE had made use of their bigger boats to transport their arms and ammunition stocks from the Jaffna peninsula to Mullaitivu.

The Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships have effectively destroyed few of these boats as they were reaching towards Chundikulam. The video footages issued to media by the Sri Lanka Air Force very clearly indicate that these Sea Tiger boats were transporting ammunition stocks, as there were big explosions after they were hit by the SLAF.

As the area under LTTE control is shrinking day by day the SLAF is in a position to monitor all LTTE activities in that region by deploying their UAVs in the air, round the clock leaving no room for them to make sudden moves against the Security Forces.

However, the Special Forces troops and the Commando troops had to come across a heavily mined area in the Eastern coast of the Jaffna peninsula to flush out Tiger cadres there. The LTTE engaged in a delaying battle to shift their arms and ammunition from the area by boats but failed in their endeavour due to the presence of the SLAF.

The 551 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Wasantha Abrew led the battle towards Chudikulam with 1 Gemunu Watch and 1 Sri Lanka Light Infantry Battalions reaching Chundikulam by Wednesday afternoon.

The 4 Gemunu Watch and 8 Vijayaba Infantry Regiment attached to the 552 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Udalupola and the 7 and 6 Vijayaba Infantry Regiment battalions attached to the 553 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Mahinda Weerasuriya assisted the 551 Brigade to achieve this task.

The troops who had advanced to Chundikulam on Wednesday had observed that the LTTE had developed the road that runs from Vettilaikerni to Chundikulam along the eastern coast to transport their heavy equipment but had not used that road to transport their arms and ammunition after the fall of Paranthan and Elephant Pass fearing that road will be cut off by the troops at any moment.

However, the capture of the entire coastal belt in the Jaffna peninsula has put the LTTE in a more desperate situation as Security Forces have further decreased the beach front in the Eastern coast confining them to nearly 23 Km stretch in the Eastern coast from Mullaitivu to Chundikulam.

Monitor

These moves by the ground troops have enabled the Sri Lanka Navy to very clearly monitor the Sea Tiger activities in the Eastern coast and prevent any Tiger leaders fleeing from the country at the final stages of the battle.

It was last Friday troops of the 53 Division and the 55 Division that advanced from the Muhamalai and Kilali fronts linked together with the 58 Division taking full control of the Elephant Pass and the Jaffna - Kandy A-9 highway linking the South with the Jaffna peninsula through a land route.

The Vanni Security Forces Headquarters under the command of Major General Jagath Jayasuriya and Jaffna Security Forces Headquarters under the command of Major General Mendaka Samarasinghe celebrated this historic victory in Elephant Pass last (January 10) Saturday in the centre of Elephant Pass.

Flags of the Vanni Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna Security Forces Headquarters, 53, 55 and 58 Divisions were raised in the centre of Elephant Pass to mark this historic moment. It was the first time the flag of the 58 Division was raised as it was first victory the 58 Division achieved after the Task Force I under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva was promoted as a permanent Division in the Sri Lanka Army.

With the completion of the mission in Elephant Pass, Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka has decided to station the 53 Division under the command of Brigadier Kamal Gunaratne to Mankulam area as a reserve force to deployed to the battle front at any emergency.

This move has further strengthened the troops operating in the Vanni battle front which are now moving into the Tiger hideouts between Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi.

The troops of the 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva is now heading towards the eastern coast from the Paranthan junction having advanced 16 Km from Paranthan junction to the East on the A-35 Paranthan Mullaitivu road.

Heavy fighting erupted in Tharmapuram village located some 15 Km East of Paranthan as LTTE cadres are holding these areas deploying their hardcore cadres. The 7 Sinha Regiment under the command of Lt. Colonel Kithsiri Liyanage and 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry Battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Kithsiri Ekanayake who are advancing in the front have confronted the LTTE in Tharmapuram inflicting heavy damages to the LTTE.

Security

Scores of Tiger cadres most of them from the elite Radha Regiment or the Imran Pandyan regiment who are providing personnel security for Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran who is now in hiding in this terrain were killed during these confrontations. They have recovered more than 20 Tiger dead bodies within the past few days of operations in Tharmapuram area and recovered a number of vehicles left behind by the LTTE.

As troops of the 58 Division are advancing further Eastward and the 55 Division is advancing into the edge of the Mullaitivu district from the Jaffna front a large number of civilians have commenced reaching Government controlled areas fleeing from the Tiger grip.

A number of civilians were killed at the hand of the LTTE as they shot at the civilians fleeing from the area. But thousands of civilians have expressed their willingness to enter Government held areas unable to bear the harassment of the LTTE. Even the hardcore Tiger cadres have commenced surrendering to the Security Forces within the past few days as they have realized the fact that there is no escape for them as the Tiger leadership at different levels have admitted that their defeat is not far.

But the Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, according to fleeing Tiger cadres, is not ready accept this fact and is bent on keeping these innocent civilians until he confronts death at the hands of the Security Forces.

The fact is that many Tiger cadres on the ground have realized the inevitable particularly as the bitter truth in that they have been surrounded by the Security Forces from all directions.

The battle is now shifting to the most sensitive part of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu where the LTTE is keeping all its assets including the outfits air assets now being taken under Security Forces control.

The Iranamadu airstrip, considered to be the main airstrip of the LTTE was the latest airstrip to fall into the hands of the Security Forces. The 631 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Subashana Welikala set foot on this airstrip on Thursday morning after a few days of intense fighting with the LTTE in the southern part of the Iranamadu airstrip.

According to sources the airstrip which is 1,100 metres in length and 40 metres in width is having two hangars made out of thick layers of concrete. The troops of the 631 Brigade cleared hundreds of booby traps and mines to reach this airstrip constructed across the old Kandy road East of Iranamadu.

The LTTE has developed the old Kandy road in the northern and southern edges of the airstrip to more than two and half kilometres in length, so that they can use that road to land their aircraft after their terror missions.

The LTTE has used this area as a high security zone and no civilians have been allowed to enter the area as it has been demarcated with barbed wire fences.

With the capture of this airstrip the LTTE has lost its fifth airstrip to the Security Forces. The first airstrip captured by the Security Forces was in Panikkankulam area in the West of A-9 road by the 57 Division troops.

After that Task Force I troops found a part of the Pooneryn Paranthan road which has been developed like an airstrip but there is no concrete evidence to prove it was used by the LTTE for the purpose.

The third airstrip was found north of Ampakamam by the 631 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Subashana Welikala on December 25 last year.

The forth airstrip captured was located north of Mulliyavali and was captured by the 593 Brigade under the command of Colonel Jayantha Gunaratne on January 10. According to ground troops there were signs that it has been used by the LTTE.

Threat

According to intelligence sources the LTTE is having another airstrip in the area North of Puthukuduiruppu and South of Chundikulam close to the eastern coast. As troops of the 55, 59 and 58 Divisions are advancing towards this area it will also made untenable to the LTTE very soon, negating the air threat of the LTTE.

At the same time LTTE is also losing their training camps one by one which have been located in the Nagacholai forest reserve in the West of Mullaitivu and in the areas North of Oddusudan and Olumadu.

As Task Force III under the command of Brigadier Satyapriya Liyanage and Task Force IV under the command of Colonel Nishantha Wanniarachchi is heading towards Visuamadu and Puthukuduiruppu from Olumadu and Oddusudan the LTTE has been deeply disturbed by this situation.

It was evident last Monday as more than 150 Tiger cadres advanced towards the North of Olumadu towards the forward defences of the 632 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Priyantha Perera.

The troops of the 632 Brigade has been thinly deployed in the area and the troops were given orders to withdraw to the left and right direction as troops received information that LTTE cadres were trying to infiltrate areas controlled by the Security Forces. Once the troops had withdrawn to the left and right directions the area came under intense artillery fire from the Mankulam and Olumadu direction from 8.30 am on Monday.

The intense fighting continued till evening on Monday with troops gaining the upper hand killing more than 25 cadres and injuring more than 60. It was later found that the LTTE was having their training camp for their Charles Anthony Brigade cadres in this area. Apart from that 59 Division troops under the command of Brigadier Nandana Udawatta is also advancing towards a more sensitive area in Puthukuduiruppu operating some four kilometres south east of Puthukuduiruppu.

With this move by the 59 Division the LTTE is going to lose their last bastion Mullaitivu within the next few days once the 59 Division make a move and cut off the Paranthan Mullaitivu road from Puthukuduiruppu.

Therefore the LTTE is now facing their definite downfall and hanging onto the area with the help of the innocent Tamil civilians trapped in the territory but there are signs that LTTE is going to lose that last hope too with exodus of civilians now pouring into the Security Forces' controlled areas within the past few days..

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