As the Meteorological Department forecast bad weather condition due to the influence of a forming depression in the Bay of Bengal, all formations of Sri Lanka Army offensive divisions now engaged in the Wanni liberation operation have commenced their forward march from West to East on all fronts hugely pressurising the LTTE now entrapped in Kilinochchi and in the areas the East of A-9 road.
The extent of pressure on the LTTE is now apparent, with the huge thrust launched by the Forces from all fronts as dozens of Tiger cadres have started to desert their ranks and entering cleared areas, after troops advanced further eastward of A-9 road from Omanthai to Mankulam.
According to ground sources, dozens of Tiger cadres have surrendered to the Security Forces having deserted the LTTE during the past few days and headed towards Omanthai, as majority of them have understand that they are fighting a losing battle. According to these Tiger cadres who surrendered to the Security Forces, many cadres are hiding in the jungles to evade arrest from the LTTE and trying their best to escape mingling with the civilians.
However, the fleeing civilians have also divulged that LTTE is trying their best to stop civilians leaving the conflict affected areas, by establishing road blocks and deploying cadres to shoot at the fleeing civilians. But majority civilians are determined to flee the area as soon as they get a chance without waiting for troops to reach the areas in which the LTTE is keeping them forcibly.
This will come into fore in the next few days as an exodus of civilians is expected to reach cleared areas once troops reach Oddusudan area which is a few-kilometres ahead of the current defences.
What is most obvious through the unfolding of these incidents is that the LTTE is left with only a few days or few weeks to face their certain defeat in the Wanni as troops are ready to launch the final assault on Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Tiger strongholds in the coming days.
For this troops have laid strong foundation to launch their final assault on the LTTE after clearing supply routes to each battle front as of yesterday. As of yesterday troops attached to Task Force II under the command of Brigadier Rohana Bandara and Task Force III under the command of Brigadier Satyapriya Liyanage were in the process of the completing some gaps in their bid to take the A-9 road from Omanthai to Mankulam under troops control.
First it was the 621 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Athula Ariyaratna to reach Puliyankulam taking the area from Omanthai to Puliyankulam under troops control. Prior to reaching Puliyankulam, two weeks back Task Force II troops destroyed the Custom Office of the LTTE from which they collected various taxes from the civilians.
After 621 Brigade reached Puliyankulam, the 622 Brigade, under the command of Lt. Colonel Seneviratne, reached Kanakarayankulam which is located some ten kilometres South of Mankulam.
As of yesterday evening troops of the Task Force II were expected to advance further Eastward from the A-9 road.
When troops attached to Task Force II reached North of Kanakarayankulam the Task Force III troops advanced some eight kilometres south of Mankulam and have advanced towards the East. Troops attached to 633 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Prathap Thillekeratna is operating South of Mankulam.
Meanwhile, troops attached to the 631 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel Priyantha Perera and 632 Brigade under the Command of Lt. Colonel Subashana Welikala advancing on the Mankulam-Mullaitivu road and in the areas North of Mankulam-Mullaitivu road had closely confronted the Tiger cadres on Friday.
A group of Tiger cadres confronted with the 4 Sri Lanka Light Infantry battalion and with the 20 Sinha Regiment troops as they advanced towards old Kandy road direction which is running parallel to the A-9 road. The 45-minutes battle erupted closer to old Kandy road on Friday and ended up with troops capturing ten Tiger bodies along with their weapons and two communication sets.
With these developments troops now operating in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu fronts will get the chance of having a well established supply route network as a 45 kilometres stretch of A-9 road from Omanthai to Kokavil is now accessible to the troops once the Kanakarayankulam town is taken under the control of the troops.
A key town on the A-9 road, Kokavil area was captured by the 574 Brigade under the Command of Lt. Colonel Senaka Wijesuirya. The 574 Brigade is controlling the A-9 road from Therumurikkandy to Kokavil. It was on Monday after floods receded that troops attached to the 574 Brigade advanced towards Kokavil town and also further Eastward towards the Western edge of the Iranamadu tank which one of the tactically important grounds for the LTTE.
The 57 Division, now operating in the South, South West and West of Kilinochchi town are now engaged in war of attrition to get maximum number of Tiger cadres killed in this stretch before they launch final assault on Kilinochchi town.
According to intelligence sources LTTE has deployed a maximum strength to the Kilinochchi front fearing that it would soon come under the Security Forces attack.
Even yesterday morning Security Forces thwarted counter attacks by the LTTE in Adampan area North East of Kilinochchi as LTTE tried to breach the Security Forces defences there. The LTTE used heavy barrages of artillery and mortar towards the Security Forces defences, but they were effectively countered by the troops using heavy volumes of Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers, artillery and mortars.
The 57 Division under the command of Major General Jagath Dias is now ready to launch the final assault on the LTTE’s de-facto political capital which would certainly be the biggest blow to the LTTE which has now changed their fighting capability into a more conventional pattern.
Therefore, losing ground like Kilinochchi will definitely put the LTTE in the lowest position as they are not in a position to claim important ground under them.
The loss of Kilinochchi will mark the end of the LTTE in the present formation and will have to resort to insurgency level mingling with the civilian population now entrapped in Vanni. It was with that objective that the LTTE is keeping civilian population under their command.
The Task Force I under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva is also heading towards Kilinochchi from the Northern front and are now engaged in a war of attrition to destroy the Tiger bunker lines before advancing to the Tiger defences.
Gunship helicopters and the fighter jets of the Sri Lanka Air Force and Armour tanks of the Sri Lanka Army continuously engaged the Tiger defences in the Kilinochchi North front.
The task before the Task Force I or the 58 Division troops is to reach the key Paranthan junction North of Kilinochchi to cut off their link with the Jaffna front. Once Paranthan falls to the Security Forces again the battle fronts in the North will once again be divided into two fronts enabling the troops to divide the fire power of the LTTE into two directions for the troops to reach their objective easily.
The LTTE, despite losing their logistic supply network, is still having a good stock of artillery and mortar. If they did not receive artillery rounds until recently they cannot maintain such a fire power against the Security Forces. This is a clear indication that the LTTE had received arms ammunition stock until the ground troops sealed off the Western coast with the capture of Pooneryn the last LTTE stronghold in the Western coast.
The ground troops are now poised to seal off the last remaining sea belt available to the LTTE in the Eastern coast too with 59 Division under the command of Brigadier Nandana Udawatta taking control of Sea Tiger bastion Alampil North of Nayaru lagoon. The troops attached to the 11 Gemunu Watch and the 14 Vijayaba Infantry Regiment reached this victory on Thursday having reached Alampil from two directions.
On Thursday evening during search and clear operations troops also captured more than 100 fibre glass boats hidden in a location close to Alampil Sea Tiger base.
With the capture of Alampil the entire Nayaru lagoon came under the control of the Security Forces and the troops of the 59 Division are now operating some nine Kilometres South of Mullaitivu which is fairly a short distance compared to earlier situation.
The other factor is that they have now passed the thick jungle patches in Mullaitivu and operating in a build up area which is running towards Mullaitivu.
They are expanding their defences towards the East also as they are controlling a considerable section of the Mulliyavali village too. In the Western edge the 59 Division front is fast advancing towards the East most probably to link up with the troops of the Task Force II and Task Force III.
It was amidst this situation, in which Task Force II and Task Force III advancing West to East direction Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka decided to form Task Force III most probably to be deployed to link the troops of the Task Force II and Task Force III with the Mullaitivu front.
Colonel Nishantha Wanniarachchi, currently the Deputy General Officer Commanding the 59 Division, has been appointed as the Commander of the Task Force IV. Lt. Colonel Priyantha Wijegunawardena has been appointed as the Colonel General Staff.
Lt. Colonel Indrajith Bandara, presently the Commanding Officer of the 12 Sinha Regiment and Lt. Colonle Randula Hatnagoda, presently the Commanding Officer of the 14 Sinha Regiment has been appointed as the Brigade Commanders of the Task Force IV.
With the formation of this Task Force, six divisions are now engaged in the Wanni liberation operation. The 57 Division under the command of Major General Jagath Dias is the first offensive Division that started operations against the LTTE in Vanni in February 2007 from Kalmadu area.
The LTTE will witness the most aggressive type of advance by the Security Forces towards the remaining areas held by the LTTE with the creation of this widest ever battlefront against the LTTE.
It was amidst these efforts by the Defence authorities and the Army Commander to increase the pressure on the LTTE, that some disgruntled elements started to make certain allegations against the Sri Lanka Army.
Their allegation is that some disabled soldiers too have been deployed for the war, according to media reports.
But Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka completely denied this allegation as Army has not deployed a single disabled soldier in operational areas.
But he accepted the fact that some soldiers categorized as disabled due to small defects in their health condition, but with the capability to handle weapons, have been deployed for certain duties in non-operational area. That was common practice in the Army for the past few decades.
Through this campaign these disgruntled politicians are trying their best to bring down the morale of the troops which is the key factor behind each and every military success in the battlefront as they are aware that there is no other way they can stop the victory of the troops as they have already experimented all the methods they know.
But, they will very soon realise that they are too late in their campaign to demoralise the valiant soldiers who are now on the threshold of the final victory.