5:36 PM

Less than 2,000 Tigers left -- Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka

Army Commander Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka said that the Tigers are fighting a losing battle and now they are besieged in an area even smaller to Thoppigala and there are only about 1700-1900 remaining with the organisation.

The Commander was addressing the Cabinet ministers, top brass of the security forces, and government officials at the Presidential Secretariat expressed confidence that the war would come to an end in less than one year.

"Now the troops are moving northwards from Kilinochchi towards Elephant Pass and they are only 2km away from the area while the 59 Division is moving close to Mullaitivu and they are only five km from the sea tiger stronghold," the Army Commander said.

Yesterday around 60 civilians moved in to the government controlled areas from the Tiger held areas on Thursday the army handed over 35 bodies of LTE cadres who were killed in battle to the ICRC he said.

Troops have breached an 800 metre area of the bund and ditch built by the Tigers to thwart the advancing troops in area close to Mullaitivu he said. Lt Gen Fonseka said that the troops made many sacrifices a lot of blood shed in achieving this victory for the nation.

They fought against the terrorists even when the terrain was completely under water, wading across neck deep in water and some of the soldiers got drowned. But they were undaunted and they fought with grit and determination against all odds he said.

"When some people were celebrating the dawn of the New Year in Colombo the valiant troops who spent sleepless nights captured Paranthan at mid night on 31 December," Lt Gen Fonseka said.
The areas which have been re-captured by the troops are now being development by the government but during the abortive Ceasefire Agreement there was no development in these areas the Commander said.

The war against the LTTE recommenced in the north while the forces were smelling victory in Thoppigala and the east in late 2005 December he said. We had a mission and a vision which was to defeat the LTTE and completely eradicate terrorism from the country he pointed out.

The troops commenced their operations from Vavuniya with the 57 Division and the Task Force 1 and moved towards Madhu. Two months ago the troops liberated Pooneryn thus opening up a land route from Mannar to Jaffna after 23 years the Commander said.