Sri Lanka: Rebels Losing To The Trends

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May 28,2008: So far this year, the LTTE have lost nearly 4,000 fighters (killed, captured, deserted). The army has suffered over 300 dead, and over a thousand wounded. There are also several hundred deserters, but as many, or more, deserters return these days. The army has 150,000 troops, with about half of them covering over 100 kilometers of front line up north. Most of the LTTE fighters man bunkers along that front line. But the thing that really keeps the army from just marching into LTTE territory is the existence of several hundred experienced LTTE fighters, who have been able to defeat the soldiers consistently in the past. This reserve force rushes in whenever the army advances too far, and inflicts lots of casualties.

Eventually, the army will have to take on this elite force, but the strategy is to use artillery and air power to pick apart the LTTE front line force to the point where the elite reserve force will have to be either broken up to man the front line bunkers, or be forced back to a small bit of territory that can be blown to bits with artillery and bombs. The army strategy is based on the fact that the trends are going against the LTTE. The rebels are getting less money, less ammo, and are losing more fighters each month, with no source of replacements or reinforcements. Tamil civilians are often being forced to man the bunkers along the front line. Threats against the families of these reluctant warriors keeps them on the job.

But the main reason for this army strategy is to minimize their own casualties. In the last 25 years, over 70,000 Sri Lankans have died in the war, and the population is tired of it. So are the troops. Thus the generals are using tactics that are successful, but keep soldier casualties down. The army monitors the LTTE with their long range patrols, that sneak about in LTTE controlled territory. Based on this, it is believed that the LTTE in the north will collapse by the end of the year. The LTTE has admitted to some 20,000 dead, through the end of 2007. Have another 4,000 died in the last five months? There is some doubt, but the LTTE have been taking a beating. Journalists have seen dozens of captured LTTE bunkers, and several LTTE towns have been captured. There is movement, and it's going against the LTTE.

In the east, there are still several dozen casualties a month from several hundred LTTE fighters who are still in the area. This is seen as a foretaste of what's going to happen once LTTE control collapses in the north. Diehard LTTE fighters can be expected to fight on for years.

May 26, 2008: LTTE terrorist set off a bomb on a commuter train near the capital, killing nine and wounding over 70. The government fears that the LTTE may shift to terror attacks in government controlled territory. So far, the LTTE has not been able to get a lot of terrorists into action, most of the more skilled LTTE operatives needed to hold the line in the north.

 

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