Sri Lanka: Highway To Hell

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November 20,2008: The army has six divisions fighting in the north against the LTTE. In the west, the 58th divisions advances along the coast. Next to it, inland and advancing on the LTTE capital of Kilinochchi, is the 57th division. Two Task Forces from the 58th division, are to the right of the 57th, covering large areas of front. Coming up from the south, in the center of the island, is the 56th division. On the east coast is the 59th division. In the Jaffna peninsula, which is cut off from the rest of the island by LTTE territory, are the 53rd and 55th divisions. The 57th and 58th divisions have made the greatest gains this year, liberating nearly half (the western half) of LTTE held territory in the north.

The LTTE runs a highly organized police state in the territory it still controls in the north. The LTTE decides who works for the NGOs, and these aid organizations are persuaded, or coerced, to do what the LTTE wants. The families of those who get NGO jobs via the LTTE, are obliged to provide one or more teenage or adult men or women for the LTTE combat units, and these "volunteers" are expected to be diligent soldiers, or else their families will suffer. These families also provide most of the suicide bombers.

Unable to stop the army advance, the LTTE is trying to manipulate public opinion in India, and throughout the world, to get the Sri Lankan government to accept a ceasefire. They do this by stressing the suffering of Tamil civilians living in territory controlled by the LTTE. These civilians are basically hostages, with the LTTE threatening to kill anyone who tries to flee to government territory. LTTE fighters at the front line have orders to keep the army out, and Tamil civilians in. While many of the civilians are all for more Tamil autonomy in Sri Lanka, they also find themselves trapped by the LTTE and its determination to fight to the end. To make that happen, all adult Tamils are now subject to involuntary military service. Most of these fighters barely know how to operate their weapons, but the LTTE has found a way to make them useful even if they are killed. If some of these fighters are hit by an air strike or artillery, their weapons are taken away, and pictures taken to show "civilians killed by Sri Lankan military." The LTTE also puts many military facilities in residential areas. So if the place get hit with artillery or air power, there will likely be civilian casualties that can be used to try and change Indian, and world, opinion against the Sri Lankans. The LTTE wants a ceasefire badly, but the government is demanding that the LTTE surrender its weapons before that happens.

The capture of the Poonaryn peninsula now allows the army to attack the heavily defended LTTE capital of Kilinochchi from three sides. Kilinochchi is heavily defended, and the army does not want to take a lot of casualties taking it by direct assault. So the battle is proceeding like a siege, with the army wearing down defenses and taking the defenders bunkers one at a time. Meanwhile, troops are beginning to take more LTTE territory on the east coast. The LTTE is having a hard time maintaining the front lines across the island, and the army is pushing through in more and more places, especially to the sides of Kilinochchi.

November 18, 2008: The navy sank two LTTE smuggling boats off the east coast, killing at least six rebels. With the west coast now controlled by the army, the navy can concentrate all its efforts on patrolling the LTTE controlled part of the northeast coast.

November 17, 2008:  The government seized $650,000 from an NGO that was acting as a conduit for charitable contributions used to support LTTE military operations. Now that most major nations have declared the LTTE a terrorist organization, it's a lot easier for investigators to find out where the LTTE money is coming from, and stop it.

November 16, 2008: The army has captured the entire west coast, cutting the LTTE off from any seaborne resupply. This also means that the Poonaryn peninsula, which is just south of the larger Jaffna peninsula, can no longer be used as a base for LTTE artillery (which could then cover most of the Jaffna area with fire). In any event, the LTTE has little artillery ammunition left, because the navy has sharply reduced the LTTE smuggling operations. The army withdrew from the Poonaryn peninsula in 1996, after defending  an army base there from LTTE attacks, which cost the army several thousand soldiers killed, wounded or captured. The capture of Poonaryn also opens the west coast highway (the A-32) which restores the land link to the Jaffna peninsula.

November 15, 2008: The two divisions on the Jaffna peninsula (the 53rd and 55th) are now attacking south against LTTE defenses that have been depleted by the need for reinforcements in Kilinochchi. After a few days, the army had taken the first line of LTTE bunkers and moved forward. There are two other lines of bunkers, and the LTTE is probably building a new third line. The army is seeking to open the A-9 highway, which goes from the Jaffna peninsula, south through the center of the island.

 

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