Sri Lanka: Preparing for the Final Battle

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March 15, 2007: Over a third of the LTTE combat forces have been destroyed, mainly in eastern Sri Lanka. But the biggest fight will be in the north, which has always been the principal stronghold of the LTTE. In preparation for that final battle, the government is trying to cut off LTTE logistical support. Over half of LTTE cash income comes from fund raising among expatriate Tamils in Britain, Canada and other Western nations. Sri Lankan diplomats are urging these governments to crack down on the fund raising. The loss of eastern Sri Lanka has eliminated fund raising (via extortion, or extraction of "taxes") from businesses and aid groups there. The LTTE still has tens of millions of dollars in cash in overseas accounts, and dozens of ships for smuggling in weapons and munitions. But the navy has been catching more of those gunrunners. Without ammo and other military supplies (radios, spare parts), the LTTE forces in Sri Lanka are much less effective. Anything that will make the remaining forces weaker, will make the final battle less bloody.

March 14, 2007: Members of the LTTE Karuna faction, who supported the government against the LTTE, appear to be taking over in eastern Sri Lanka, even inside refugee camps. The Karuna faction is willing to make a peace deal that gives Tamils autonomy, but not an independent Tamil state on the island.

March 13, 2007: Over the last few days, clashes have left sixty rebels and ten soldiers dead. There have been several hundred wounded, and many LTTE desertions, in both the north and the east. Army intelligence discovered that one of the recent air raids had killed a senior LTTE leader in the east, adding to the confusion the LTTE are suffering there.

March 10, 2007: Over 30,000 civilians have fled the recent fighting in the east, and the LTTE fighters are retreating towards the coast. Once they reach that, there is no more retreat. The total number of refugees from the fighting in the east is now over 150,000.

March 9, 2007: In the east, three more LTTE bases were captured, leaving 23 rebels and three soldiers dead. The loss of these bases leaves LTTE fighters homeless, and many of them are deserting. This is made easier by the large number of local civilians who are fleeing their homes to avoid the military operations. There are still over a thousand LTTE fighters in the east, and when any of these encounter soldiers or police, there is often gunfire.

 

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