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Archive for July 18th, 2008

After the army’s capture of Viduthalaithiv sea tiger base on early morning last Wednesday (16th), LTTE activity further north of the base has increased. This is due to the fact that some of the LTTE cadres who were manning the base fled in the face of the army advance along with some of the hardware on the base. Around 30 LTTE cadres are believed to have been killed in the battle during which the army took control of a well fortified 2km long defence line in close proximity of the base. Exact number of LTTE casualties are not known. The rest of the LTTE cadres manning the base have fled further towards the north along with some of the military hardware (while leaving behind some) in the base.

The air force has been actively targeting the cadres who managed to escape and who are now trying to station themselves further north of Viduthalaithiv. On the 16th, Mi-24 helicopter gunships attacked two boats around 5km north of the base. On the same day, SLAF’s bombers attacked a medium sized sea tiger base some 40km north of Viduthalaithiv. On yesterday (17th), Mi-24s attacked another LTTE regrouping attempt in Iluppaikkadavai which is located 5km north of the fallen base.

The army will maintain a permanent presence in Viduthaliathivu due to its strategic importance in the defence of the western coastline of the island. Naval Commandos of the Special Boat Squadron (SBS) along with other regular and elite infantry units of the army will most likely be stationed there once ongoing search operations in the area are completed.

(Defense Net)

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Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka yesterday called the capture of Vidathalthivu was a remarkable victory for the Security Forces as the LTTE had lost its “biggest Sea Tiger base in the Western coast”. Speaking to media, he said that the Terrorists must have never thought that they will lose Vidattaltivu as they developed strong defenses in Vidattaltivu while fighting in Mannar.

“They never thought that they will lose Vidathalthivu two weeks after we captured the ‘Green Bowl’ in Mannar”, he added.

Speaking further , the Army Chief revealed that troops are now advancing towards Illuppakadavai, the next Sea Tiger base in the Western coast, in order to restrict Sea Tiger activities further in the Gulf of Mannar. The capture of Vidattaltivu and Illuppakadavai will be a great help to the Navy as operations from in the Mannar islands will be facilitated in a big way, he further said.

“Therefore, the loss of Vidattaltivu will be a great disadvantage to the LTTE”, the Army Commander said. He added that once Illuppakadavai falls, troops can move towards Vellankulam, the Northern most boundary of the Mannar district.

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It was on June 29, 2008 that troops attached to the 58 Division marked a victorious move as they successfully completed Operation ‘Rice Bowl’ capturing more than 120 square kilometres in the Mannar district. But it was not the end of their operation. There was no time for the troops to rest or flash back on what they had achieved.

It was obvious that their next target was Vidattalthivu, the biggest Sea Tiger base on the Western coast with a natural harbour which cannot be detected from the sea.

Having captured the ‘Rice Bowl’ by June 29, the troops attached to the 58 division advanced four Kilometres north of the Rice Bowl area up to 12thmile post on the A-32 Mannar -Pooneryn road.

Once the troops advanced further northward they found another earth bund similar to the one inside the ‘Rice Bowl’ area from Pappamoddai to Parappakadattan. The aerial view of the earth bund showed that it ran from South of Vidattalthivu up to Piramanayankulam tank some 10 Kilometres east of Vidattalthivu.

The Southern front was created by the 581 Brigade under the Command of Lt. Colonel Deshapriya Gunwardena and 583 Brigade under the Command of Lt. Colonel Suraj Banshajaya.

The 10 Gajaba Regiment under the command of Lt. Colonel. Sarada Samarakoon, 12 GR under the Command of Major Saliya Amunugama, 8 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Suminda Jayasundera, and 6 Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Kamal Pinnawala formed the Southern front.

“We decided to get the maximum attrition to achieve the Commanders mission and we managed to kill over 100 LTTE cadres,” General Officer Commanding of the 58 Division Brigadier Shavendra Silva says while explaining the mission he had undertaken. Within ten days the troops were able to get more than 25 bodies of the LTTE cadres killed in these attritions.

It was after the Army Commander directed that the time was ripe to capture Vidattalthivu the 58 Division began the offensive operation to capture it according to a solid plan given by the Commander as a considerable number of Tiger cadres have already perished during this 10-day period.

“Another front from the East of Vidattalthivu was formed to achieve the mission given by the Commander,” the Brigadier says.

The eastern front was created by the 2 Commando Regiment under the Command of Second In Command of the 2 Commando Regiment Major Shamal Silva in the absence of its CO Lt. Colonel Jayantha Balasuriya and by the 582 Brigade which consisted of Gemunu Watch under the command of Lt. Colonel Lal Chandrasiri, and 12 Gemunu Watch Under the Command of Lt. Colonel Nandana Dundunuwila.

It was after an initial attack on one selected portion of the 10 Kilometres long defence line the troops understood the fact that the LTTE cannot withstand the fire power and the aggressiveness of the soldiers who assailed the FDL.

“They started to flee leaving behind their positions. They were running faster than they ran at the time we captured the ‘Rice Bowl,” the Brigadier added.

Their so-called commanders were not aware of what was going on there and were not in a position to control the demoralised cadres who had been forcibly conscripted to the outfit.

The intercepted radio transmissions of the LTTE confirmed that they were totally disobeying the senior cadres and running for their lives.

By this time columns of troops advancing from an east to west direction were operating six kilometres behind the defence line but managed to get maximum killings targeting LTTE cadres fleeing Vidattalthivu.

As per ground confirmation a minimum of 35 to 40 Tiger cadres were killed after getting caught to ambushes laid by the troops operating east of Vidattalthivu whilst a considerable number of cadres were wounded and killed in the Southern FDL.

As the Commando troops came from east to west direction they observed dead bodies lying on the ground with vehicles and motorcycles on the site. It was on Tuesday that evening troops entered the main town of Vidattalthivu.

The continued interception of LTTE transmissions confirmed that LTTE leaders were searching for sub leaders and cadres but none of them had responded to the communications of the leaders.

Many of the Tiger cadres were mentally affected. Now the troops are dominating four kilometres south of Illuppakadavai after advancing further north of Vidathalthivu along the A-32 road.

“As per the wishes of the Secretary Defence and the Commander of the Army we will keep our military pressure on the LTTE and advance quickly to the areas they are now dominating. We as officers of a winning team in the Wanni battle are confident of victory,” Brigadier Silva remarked.

(Sunday Observer)

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Troops on realistic approach to bring war to turning point

Bringing the ongoing war to a turning point by August this year was the prime aim of the Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka now engaged in the hectic task of liberating the entire North from the clutches of the LTTE.

His expectations were in line with the hopes and aspirations of the entire nation who are awaiting the date they can see an end to the ongoing war.

Many critics were of the opinion that the Security Forces are engaged in a futile exercise just to appease the political objectives of the present Government. But the Security Forces have now proved beyond any doubt that they are on a successful path of defeating the LTTE terrorism fully from the North.

With just one week to go for the completion of two years of offensive operations against the LTTE from the humanitarian operations in Mavil Aru on July 26, 2006, troops proved their capability of capturing Tiger strongholds which were described as impregnable by the LTTE.

The fall of Vidattalthivu was a significant mark of the downfall of the LTTE in its two and half decades long existence. What is most significant about this victory was that the Army Commander is proving his words of taking the ongoing war to a turning point by August this year which had been misinterpreted by some sections of media as saying he was pledging to end the war by August this year.

Battlefront

The results we are witnessing on the battlefront in the Wanni are due to the hard work of the ground troops who entered the battlefront soon after the liberation of the Eastern province from the LTTE. As Army Commander Lt General Fonseka says the tail enders of a cricket team do not perform the same way their opening and middle order batsmen perform.

What he meant was that the Security Forces have already got rid of the opening and middle order batsmen of the LTTE. Many of the front runners of the LTTE have already given their lives in the battlefront and many have retreated from the battlefront while some have died of natural causes.

The LTTE had lost many of their leaders including its Theoretician Anton Balasingham, Political Wing Leader S.P. Thamilselvan and more recently the Overall Operations Commander Balraj.

Their military leaders killed in battles are innumerable. Only the death notices on the walls of Tiger bunkers captured by the Security Forces can give an idea about the number of Tiger leaders killed on the battlefront since many in the South are not willing to accept the figures confirmed by the Security Forces through intercepted radio transmissions of the LTTE.

Therefore, what is unfolding in the Wanni gives an idea that the LTTE has lost its fighting spirit as they have lost many of their cadres. The Tiger outfit is now only left with desperate and demoralised cadres who had been forcibly recruited to the LTTE to fight a war to achieve Tamil Eelam, the unrealistic dream of the Tiger leader Prabhakaran.

The way the LTTE had fled from Vidattalthivu, the biggest Sea Tiger base on the Western coast was one of the finest examples to confirm that the LTTE is entering the final lap of the war. According to Security Forces estimates they have been able to get rid of two thirds of the fighting cadres of the LTTE having killed over 9,000 Tiger cadres within two years of offensive operations against the LTTE.

The Tiger outfit never thought that they will have to face this type of destiny just two weeks after their humiliating defeat in the Mannar ‘Rice Bowl’ in which the Security Forces were able to capture 105 square kilometres of paddy land and a huge tank (Giant Tank).

The significance of the victory achieved by the Security Forces was not only due to the loss of a Sea Tiger base on the Western Coast – it marks the start of the fall of the LTTE on the North Western coast as they have lost their biggest Sea Tiger base on the Western coast. This base was considered impregnable during the entire North East conflict.

What is most significant is that with the capture of Vidattalthivu the Security Forces have started their march along the A-32 road connecting Mannar and Pooneryn. The troops attached to the 58 Division are now poised to capture Illuppakadavai, the next Sea Tiger base located north of Vidattalthivu.

Stepping stone

It will be a stepping stone for the troops to capture the Vellankulam town on the northern edge of Mannar district along the A-32 road enabling the troops to capture the entire Mannar district in the next step.

Therefore, the claim of the Army Commander to bring the ongoing war against the LTTE to a turning point is becoming a more realistic target. It is becoming realistic not only because the Security Forces were able to capture Vidattalthivu but also due to the troops attached to 57 Division under the command of Major General Jagath Dias reaching the centre of Wanni on the Western flank.

Troops have advanced 40 kilometres into Tiger territory, operating just four kilometres south of Thunukkai, the second biggest administrative centre of the LTTE in the Wanni. The Security Forces are poised to capture this strategically important township which has now been encircled by a massive defence line to defend both Thunukkai and Mallawi towns.

The maneuverability of troops with the creation of a massive front on the Western flank of Wanni has put the Security Forces in a more advantageous situation to capture these two strategically important towns as the LTTE is not in a position to deploy their cadres to face the advancing troops.

The capture of Thunukkai will also keep the Security Forces on a more advantageous position as they can take Kilinochchi the heart of the LTTE under the range of their artillery guns. That means the LTTE have to take cover once again in thick jungles or take the remaining civilian population as a shield against the pending artillery threat from the Security Forces.

Once troops attached to the 57 Division advance into these strategically important locations and reach further north Task Force -II operating parallel to the A-9 road can advance in the north-east direction launching a major thrust on the LTTE with the 57 Division widening the front against the LTTE.

The Weli Oya front too can contribute to bring the ongoing war to a turning point as they too are operating just four kilometres South of Kumulamunai the area from which the Security Forces can take the Mullaitivu stronghold of the LTTE under their artillery range.

Once the military fronts achieve these tasks the target predicted by the Army Commander can be achieved without any hesitation as the LTTE is losing its capability to operate as a conventional Army in the Wanni and in the North.

The only option they will be left with is to take the cover of the thick jungle in the Wanni. But this time they are deprived of that chance too as the Security Forces are dominating jungles patches of Wanni.

So the masses will be able to witness the way the LTTE ‘s massive impregnable strongholds fall with the ongoing war being put on a faster track in the coming months once troops pass the milestone of bringing the ongoing war to a turning point as stipulated by the Army Commander.

(Sunday Observer)

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