Sri Lanka Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse has used several numbers and figures to solidify some of his claims about being ‘on the right track’ in the ongoing war, during an interview with a Sinhala newspaper.
The Defence Secretary’s comments are seen as an attempt to calm certain uneasiness with regards to successful LTTE air operations among some Sri Lanka troops on the ground, opposition party questions on the success of the ‘onslaught’ so far and concerns being raised by international organizations on the plight of civilians.
[Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse]
Sri Lanka Air Force far superior
There is no military significance whatsoever, on the air strike carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Their attack in Trincomalee was just an act to rejuvenate their support base, Sri Lanka Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse said in an interview with the weekend edition of Sinhala newspaper Divayina.
According to an excerpt of the interview appearing on the Tamil Daily Virakesari website today, Sri Lanka Defence Secretary further said:
The Tigers air wing so far conducted 6 missions. During this period Sri Lanka Air Force carried out 6,000 air strikes. LTTE planes carry bombs weighing 30 kg where as Sri Lanka Air Force carries 250 to 1,000 kg bombs. Furthermore, LTTE aircrafts seem to be missing the targets while, our Air Force is right on zeroing in on the intended.
Depleting and destroying LTTE resources
Capturing Kilinochchi is a little difficult operation. However, we will somehow bring Kilinochchi under our control and a time frame cannot be given for this, the Defence Secretary is quoted as saying.
Over a year has gone by since this operation started. Our first goal was destroying LTTE resources. We started by depriving them of facilities in Mannar. The Navy attacked and destroyed Sea bases of the LTTE; major marine routes are now blocked for LTTE, even though a few still remain.
Civilian lives not at risk
Sri Lanka Defence Secretary also claimed that civilian lives are not at risk in Kilinochchi.
He based his prediction on the ‘success’ of resettling internally displaced persons in the Jaffna peninsula within one and a half years. He said there were 500,000 persons in Jaffna at the time of being captured by Sri Lanka security forces; and the people in Kilinochchi now is half of that number, Sri Lanka Defence Secretary said.
Plight of civilians
International Organizations continue to point out that the conditions for civilians in Vanni are worsening. Several deaths, including of children were reported on Aug 31st, by Colombo based Tamil daily Thinakkural.
Contrary to the claims of Defence Secretary, in Jaffna peninsula thousands of civilians are still unable to return to their previous homes due to the creation of high security zones. Similar situation prevails in the East as well.
Tough fight ahead
On the war front analysts have commented the road ahead will not be easy for Sri Lanka armed forces. In a Reuters report today, Maria Kuusisto, an analyst with the Eurasia Group in London said of the Sri Lanka armed forces advancement into LTTE held areas: “They have achieved a small breakthrough but the LTTE are putting up a tough fight”.