Sri Lanka: Unhappy New Year


December 19,2008: Weeks of fighting around the LTTE capital of  Kilinochchi has led to several thousand casualties. Troops are attacking LTTE bunkers five kilometers outside the town. As expected, the LTTE have some of their best remaining fighters operating here. But the LTTE is fighting under many disadvantages. The air force controls the air, and the pilots are now experienced at hitting ground targets. The army has far more artillery than the LTTE, and much more ammunition.

Meanwhile, the 59th division keeps moving up the east coast, giving the LTTE less and less coastline for their smuggling boats. More portions of the A-9 highway (which runs up the center of the island) is being captured by troops. The LTTE is being pressed on over a dozen fronts. While clearly on its last legs, the LTTE appears determined to go down fighting. Given how thinly stretched the LTTE forces are, a complete collapse could come at any time. The army is still wary of a last-ditch counter-offensive, even though several deadly LTTE local counter-attacks have been repulsed recently. Having been beaten up by the LTTE several times over the last two decades, the generals remain cautious. The army knows it will win, and wants to do so with as few casualties as possible.  

Tamils fleeing LTTE held territory report increasing efforts to conscript and train fighters. Many of those drafted end up spending all their time digging and building fortifications. Air force bombers and army artillery make these trenches and bunkers essential. Moreover, as the army advances, and captures an LTTE line of bunkers, the surviving rebel fighters fall back to another line. The LTTE bunker builders are often bombed or shelled. The LTTE will often try to claim that these unarmed fighters were actually innocent civilians slaughtered by racist government forces. LTTE efforts to carry out terror attacks against civilian targets have been frustrated by the police and army roadblocks. The LTTE does not have as much access to the test of the island as they used to.

December 12, 2008: The army captured a village eight kilometers from the rebel headquarters town of  Kilinochchi.


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