9:00 PM

Heavy Battles in Dwindling Area

Air force jets pounded Tamil Tiger fortifications in northern Sri Lanka - on Saturday, destroying a LTTE bunker line as fighting intensified in the country's civil war, the military said.

Heavy battles Friday across the front lines surrounding the dwindling area controlled by the rebels killed 22 guerrilla fighters, the military said in a statement Saturday.

In recent weeks, troops have broken through the rebels' defenses and seized a series of key towns and bases. Raging battles in the Kilinochchi region killed nine rebel fighters, the military said. Fighting in Vavuniya, Welioya, Mullaittivu and Jaffna killed another 13, the military said.

As the troops advanced on the rebels' main power base in Kilinochchi on Saturday morning, air force jets supported them by striking and destroying a line of rebel bunkers east of the town of Nachchikuda, said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara.

LTTE spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer calls for comment.

Both sides routinely exaggerate enemy casualties and underreport their own. Independent verification of the fighting is not possible because most journalists are barred from the war zone.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for an independent state in the north and east since 1983, following decades of marginalization of ethnic Tamils by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority.

5:24 PM

Civilians flee defying LTTE orders

Large groups of civilians are fleeing the LTTE controlled Kilinochchi District to government controlled areas in the North defying LTTE orders, Director of the Media Centre for National Security, told News-Lanka yesterday.

The LTTE had threatened the civilians leaving their stronghold with death, he said.

The armed forces were now within 14 kilometres from the Kilinochchi town. The Sri Lanka Air Force attacked three LTTE positions in the district yesterday and inflicted heavy losses on terrorist positions. The ground troops were advancing according to plan, Hulugalle said.

4:26 PM

Prabhakaran Abandoned Tamils he hoped to lead to “Promise Land,”

Contrary to popular myth expressed across the Palk Strait and by some folks in Sri Lanka, Prabhakaran lost popular support faster than he lost his ill-gotten territory militarily. Intelligence sources expressed the view that he may never proclaim his Heroes Day Message again.

He never surrounded himself with the people he hoped to lead into the “Promised Land.” It is an “unwinnable war”- was what the UNP repeated ad nauseam and chanted “armed forces can never take Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.” Alas! The illusionary task of defeating Prabhakaran has become a reality. Intelligence sources added that no leader has ever won a battle without the solid support of the people, call it insurrection or freedom fight.

Aging Tiger leader Velupillai PrabakaranAging Tiger leader Velupillai Prabakaran

Sri Lankan armed forces are in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts as I write. Barring an unlikely disastrous reversal for the armed forces, the war in the north would come to an end this year.

Sources in Washington added that the view that Prabhakaran carried the Tamils with him was never true, contrary to what has been stated recently by the generally media shy National Security Advisor of India, M K Naryanan.

News-Lanka reported that he was on the front pages of Indian and Sri Lanka dailies indicating that "Sri Lanka may win the battle against the Tamil Tigers but not the war as 'they haven't got the Tamil population on their side." According to the news-Lanka report, these observations don't appear to be off the cuff remarks, because he was careful when speaking to The Strait Times: 'I know the Sri Lankan government will be unhappy (at this advice).'

9:14 AM

army advance to Nachchikuda

Air Force MI 24 helicopter gunships raided a line of LTTE bunkers located in the East of Nachchikuda on the Kilinochchi war front around 1.10 this afternoon (August 15). According to the Air Force sources, the attacks were launched in support of the Army Task Force 1 soldiers marching Northwards on the Mannar- Pooneryn road (A-32).