The liberation of Kilinochchi
The fall of
Kilinochchi, the Tigers' main administrative hub and the
so-called de-facto 'capital', to the Security Forces marks a
watershed in the current humanitarian mission aimed at
liberating the Northern Tamil civilians from LTTE tyranny. Hours
earlier, the Forces had liberated Paranthan, another vital Tiger
That the valiant Forces would take control of Kilinochchi was
never in doubt, though there were many who openly stated that it
would be an impossible task for the Security Forces. There was
fierce fighting all the way, though in the end the Tigers'
dwindling arsenal and cadre numbers were no match for the
superior firepower, viable strategies and sheer determination of
the Security Forces.
The Tigers, on the other hand suffered from desertions, low
morale, lack of direction and leadership and a paucity of
firepower. The incessant rains that lashed the Northern Province
did slow down the troops physically, but strengthened their
mental resolve to capture the enemy stronghold.
The conquest of Kilinochchi, while certainly not the end of
the current phase of humanitarian operations - Mullaitivu and
Elephantpass are about to be liberated soon - marks perhaps the
most significant moment in the long drawn out conflict. It marks
the zenith of a military campaign that began with the Mavil Aru
operation two years ago. The Forces succeeded in liberating the
entire Eastern Province in that phase of the operation and there
is hardly any doubt that they will achieve the same goal in the
North. Today, the East has a civilian administration replete
with local bodies and a Provincial Council. This indeed is the
goal of the Government and the Forces in the North as well.
The Government's foremost priority has been protecting and
liberating the civilians in the North from the grip of the LTTE.
This is, in fact, why the operation was called a humanitarian
mission. The Government very clearly instructed the Forces to
strictly adhere to a Zero Civilian Casualty Policy, arranged a
humanitarian corridor for the civilians to enter cleared areas
and sent truckloads of foods to the uncleared areas.
War experts have noted that the battle for Kilinochchi would
have been over much sooner if not for the civilian factor. As
the Human Rights Watch exposed in a recent report, the Tigers
had used the civilians as a base for recruitment and subjected
them to untold hardships. The Tigers' use of civilians as a
human shield has been universally condemned. In this context, it
is indeed gratifying that the Forces had engaged in their
mission causing hardly any civilian casualties.
The one major factor that enabled the Forces to strictly
adhere to these policies and battlefield tactics was the astute
political and military leadership that backed them 100 per cent.
As Commander-in-Chief and Defence Minister, President Mahinda
Rajapaksa gave political leadership and freedom to the Forces.
The military leadership, helmed by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya
Rajapaksa, himself a seasoned military campaigner and the Tri
Forces Commanders, was exceptional to say the least. Although
the regaining of territory is mostly a task for the Army, one
should commend the 100 per cent cooperation extended to the Army
in this campaign by the Air Force and the Navy as well as by the
Police (including the STF) and the Civil Defence personnel. The
Air Force, by pounding Tiger installations and strongholds and
the Navy, by intercepting Tiger arms movements, rendered an
We should reflect for a moment on the immense sacrifices made
by the Forces at this juncture. They went into the battlefield
knowing very well it would not be a cakewalk. Many soldiers made
the Supreme Sacrifice for their Motherland while many others
have been injured and disabled, some for life.
We should be grateful to their families too for giving their
sons and daughters to the Forces for this noble mission. Even in
the heat of battle, never once they forgot the humanistic aspect
of the whole operation - the whole country watched on television
how Forces personnel treated injured and surrendered Tiger
cadres. The Tiger cadres were astonished as they had been
brainwashed into thinking that the 'Sinhala Army' was a
heartless outfit. Where does this magnificent victory of the
Forces leave the Tiger cadres who are still fighting? Their only
option is to surrender to the Forces as President Rajapaksa
stated yesterday in his address to the Nation. Fleeing
northwards will be a fruitless exercise as the Forces are poised
to regain every inch of territory in the North. The cadres who
surrender will not only save their lives, but also get an
opportunity to be rehabilitated and enter society some day as
As for Tiger leader Prabhakaran, the only option is give up
his violent struggle even at this late stage, lay down weapons
and enter negotiations. He will have nowhere to run soon. The
Government has made it clear that renouncing violence and
abandoning weapons are prerequisites for any talks. All
Governments, including this one, have engaged in talks with the
Tigers with the genuine intention of bringing peace, only to
find that the Tigers have left the table proffering a flimsy
excuse. The Forces' victory in Kilinochchi has undoubtedly
driven the final nail into the LTTE's coffin and a complete
surrender and decommissioning of weapons on the Government's
terms is the only logical choice left for it.