Intense fighting broke out along the Kilinochchi and Paranthan defences on December 16 as the Security Forces launched their final battle to capture Kilinochchi and Paranthan. The attack continued for the past ten days in the same breath as troops expanded their positions along the Tiger earth bund despite heavy counter attacks by the LTTE.
A heavy barrage of artillery and mortars fell on the Tiger defences and also on the advancing troops as the battlefront took a new turn, most probably due to renewed fire power of the LTTE. However, troops managed to advance into Tiger territory amidst all these obstacles as the weather conditions were improving enabling the troops to face the battle in a better environment compared to the situation that prevailed last week.
What is more significant is that, Task Force I troops under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva continued to take the upper hand in the Paranthan front expanding the 1.5 Kilometre stretch of the earth bund they captured on December 16, in the North of Pooneryn – Paranthan road to more than three kilometres as of yesterday effectively foiling all Tiger counter attacks to recapture it.
Troops braved the flooded and muddy terrains in the Paranthan front adjoining the Jaffna lagoon front to expand their positions along the earth bund towards Pooneryn-Paranthan road whilst columns of troops advancing more than three kilometres ahead of the Tiger earth bund captured Sinnaparanthan, one of the important locations ahead of Paranthan.
Troops attached to the 11 Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment under the command of Kithsiri Ekanayake and 17 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Kottawatta managed to clinch this victory whilst troops of the 8 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Vajira Welagedara expanded the positions on the ditch cum earth bund towards Adampan to the south of Pooneryn-Paranthan road.
With this move Paranthan AG office area came under the control of the troops as they are operating some six kilometres West of Paranthan junction.
The capture of Sinnaparanthan area is vital for the troops as it opens gateways to Paranthan, Kilinochchi and even Elephant Pass which are vital locations for the LTTE at present.
Troops of the Task Force I are now operating in the same area they were operating in 1997 during the Sath Jaya operation to capture Kilinochchi from the Tigers. Therefore, every move by the Task Force I between Kilinochchi and the Jaffna peninsula is vital as they are moving to grab the neck of the Tiger territory that links the body and the head through vital arteries across Paranthan.
As troops were consolidating their positions in Sinnaparanthan LTTE launched a massive artillery and mortar fire towards the area on Wednesday morning from 5.30 a.m. in their bid to recapture the area.
But it was effectively foiled by Task Force I with the active support given by the Sri Lanka Air Force and directing barrages of artillery and mortar into Tiger positions compelling the Tiger cadres who arrived to recapture the earth bund to flee leaving behind their wounded.
The radars of Task Force I detected that three 130 mm artillery guns located in Iyakachchi area were directing fire towards the defences of the troops whilst 122 mm artillery and 120 mm mortars were falling to the front from the North of Kilinochchi.
It was a clear indication that the LTTE had received fresh stocks of artillery and mortar rounds to intensify their thrust towards the advancing Security Forces. It is apparent that they have managed to unload a significant stock of artillery and mortar on board the medium size Tiger vessel that was destroyed in the sea off Mullaitivu by the Sri Lanka Navy last Saturday morning.
Therefore, it is vital for the Sri Lanka Navy to intensify the patrolling in the narrow stretch of Eastern seas now available for the LTTE to smuggle arms and ammunition into their territory.
Though the LTTE tried to display their massive fire power it seems they have failed to muster the manpower needed to launch counter attacks to recapture the terrain now dominated by the troops. It was because massive number of Tiger cadres fell victim to the Security Forces over the past one week in their bid to halt the advance of the Security Forces.
In the Paranthan front alone troops managed to kill at least 15 Tiger cadres a day by launching assaults on their bunker lines and taking sniper targets.
As troops of the Task Force I headed towards Paranthan, troops attached to the 57 Division under the command of Major General Jagath Dias also made a significant improvement in the battlefront facing Kilinochchi from all directions.
If there were any lapses on the part of the Security Forces during the battle that erupted on December 16 and during the subsequent counter attacks the troops attached to the 57 Division too managed to recapture the Tiger earth bund after the fresh combined operation launched by the Task Force I and the 57 Division on December 22.
The 571 Brigade which faced major drawback on December 16 offensive managed to rise from the ashes as they were able to capture two kilometres of vital section of the earth bund facing the West of Kilinochchi on December 22.
571 Brigade is now under the command of Lt. Colonel Harendra Ranasinghe who earlier acted as the Colonel General Staff of the Task Force I. He replaced Colonel G.V. Ravipriya’ who was appointed as the Commander of the Mannar Area Headquarters.
Monday’s assault on the Tiger defences in the Kilinochchi front turned into a debacle for the LTTE as troops of the 571 Brigade managed to capture two kilometre stretch of the earth bund with minimum number of casualties but causing maximum casualties to the LTTE.
It was at 5.30 a.m. in the morning on Monday that troops attached to 9 Gajaba Regiment under the Command of Lt. Colonel Chandana Somaweera, 4 Sinha Regiment under the Acting Command of Major Wasantha Hewage and the 12 Sinha Regiment under the Command of Major Weerasinghe (the Second in Command of the Sinha Regiment) launched this massive assault on the Tiger earth bund with Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships giving close air support to the ground troops.
Within an hour they managed to capture a two kilometre stretch of the earth bund which is located just five kilometres west of Kilinochchi centre. As they consolidated their positions they managed to foil all counter attacks launched by the LTTE killing at least 50 Tiger cadres ahead of their defences.
As of yesterday troops were in the process of clearing the area ahead of them as LTTE failed to even evacuate the casualties and dead bodies from the area.
The troops attached to the 572 Brigade under the Command of Lt. Colonel Dhammika Jayasundera also managed to move ahead of the Tiger earth bund to establish their defences during December 22 attack.
The troops attached to the 574 Brigade under the Command of Lt. Colonel Senaka Wijesuriya operating in South of Kilinochchi also managed to cause heavy damages to the LTTE.
The earth bund captured by the 574 Brigade on December 16 was recaptured by the LTTE last Saturday in a massive counter attack on the troops operating there.
Though troops had to give up the earth bund intercepted radio transmissions have confirmed that 24 hardcore Tiger cadres were killed and 30 others injured during the fierce battle.
Therefore, after ten days of intense battles the Security Forces have once again taken complete control of the battle in the Kilinochchi and Paranthan battlefront without leaving any doubt about their future moves to capture the de-facto Tiger capital Kilinochchi.
Yet it is not an easy task for the Security Forces as Tigers are preparing for a do or die battle in Kilinochchi as they deploy their hardcore cadres to the front. Therefore, expected more fierce battles will erupt in the Kilinochchi front as they move further interior into the Kilinochchi area which is a matter of only few moves for the troops operating in the edges of build up area.
What is not realised by the LTTE is that they have to strengthen their depleting ranks if they continue to hold their positions inflicting damages to the Security Forces.
As the main battle continues in the edges of Kilinochchi the newly formed Task Force IV under the command of Colonel Nishantha Wanniarachchi managed to capture Nedunkerni in the South of Oddusudan taking a vital area in the Mullaitivu district under their control.
That will definitely pave the way for troops to reach the areas in which LTTE is keeping the innocent civilians as hostages. Though the number of civilians fleeing the Tiger grip see a significant increase, a large number of civilians are yet to be freed by the Security Forces from the Tiger grip.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a fervent appeal to the LTTE to release these innocent civilians giving indications that LTTE would be proscribed if they did not respond.
So it is obvious that exactly a year after withdrawing from the Ceasefire, the Government is heading towards proscribing the LTTE if they continue to harass the Tamil civilians further.
Therefore, the year that dawns next Thursday would be a challenging one for the Security Forces as they are to liberate the entire North from the Tiger grip as predicted by the President.
Therefore, the support of the common masses is vital at this juncture of the war against terror. They are the real strength behind the Security Forces’ victories, as they tolerated each and every hardship to strengthen the hands of the Security Forces.