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 Post subject: Eelam War III
 Post Posted: Sat Aug 26, 2006 5:45 am 
Eelam War III

@ LL / Aug 2006

With the change of government in August 1994, fresh peace talks with the LTTE began. A cease-fire was announced between the Security Forces and the LTTE in January 1995. This cease-fire did not last for more than 100 days. Hostilities broke out on the 19th of April 1995. But this time, the target of the LTTE was the Sri Lanka Navy. Frogmen of the Sea Tigers stealthily approached two gun boats 'SOORAYA' and 'RANASURU', planted explosives, and blasted them.

The Tigers this time entered the war with a new weapon, the shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile. Two Sri Lanka Air Force AVRO aircrafts were shot down while flying over the Jaffna peninsula. On April 28 the first Avro, came down over Palaly. Initially the SLAF claimed that one of its Rolls Royce engines caught fire as it took off from Palaly. The SLAF said that the aircraft crashed as the pilot made an abortive bid to return to Palaly. Almost 50 officers and men perished.

The SLAF lost a second Avro the following day. Wing Commander S. Pathirana warned the Palaly control tower of a missile attack before he went down. Among the crew was Wing Commander Shirantha Goonetileke, son of former SLAF Commander Harry Goonetileke. The LTTE struck as the ill-fated aircraft was coming down to land at Palaly. Among the dead were SLAF officers on their way to investigate the previous day’s loss of aircraft. Hours after the loss of the second aircraft, the SLAF admitted that both aircraft were brought down by missiles. The SLAF suspended all flights to the peninsula. Fights resumed on May 10. The appearance of missiles made Italian-built Siai Marchetti SF 260, Siai Marchetti SF 260 W and Argentine Pucara light aircraft obsolete. Against this backdrop, the LTTE mounted pressure on bases in the peninsula. The forces were in an extremely difficult situation. The war entered a new phase with the induction of missiles. The government was caught napping. The consequences were catastrophic.

An effort to expand the area under army control around the sprawling Palaly airbase ended in disaster. A combined security forces offensive codenamed Leap Forward ran into serious trouble as the LTTE brought down a Pucara over the peninsula. The twin-turboprop light aircraft piloted by Flying Officer D. F. D. S. Perera was shot down as it bombed the enemy targeting the newly established Sandilipay-Alaveddi frontline. The operation which was launched in the second week of July was called off. Troops abandoned approximately 80 square kms brought under their control.

Faced with the growing threat on Palaly and Kankesanthurai bases, Kumaratunga authorised Riviresa, the biggest ever combined security forces offensive to bring the entire peninsula under their control. The offensive which got underway on August 16th, 1995 came to a successful end with the capture of Jaffna town in the first week of December, 1995. Subsequently Vadamaratchchy fell.

Operation 'RIVIRESA-I' was launched on 17 of October 1995 with the aim of wresting control over the Valikamam area of the Jaffna peninsula. The operation was commanded by Major General Rohan Daluwatte the Overall Operations Commander, (OOC), which involved three divisions : the 51 Division commanded by Brigadier Neil Dias and 52 Division commanded by Brigadier P.A. Karunathilaka advanced astride axes Jaffna - Point Pedro and Jaffna - Palaly Road respectively up to line joining Kopay and Kondavil. From this lateral line 53 Division commanded by Brigadier Janaka Perera, consisting of the Independent Brigade, Air Mobile Brigade, Armoured Brigade and an Infantry Brigade broke out. On the 22nd of November 1995, Valikamam was cut off from Vadamarachchi and Tenamarachchi areas. However an intense battle had to be fought to evict the remaining cadres from the Jaffna town. On the 2nd of December 1995, Jaffna town was brought under the control of the Security Forces after a lapse of twelve years. The town was captured with minimal damage to property. However the LTTE. had stripped the Jaffna Teaching Hospital of all usable items and equipment.

During the battle for the peninsula, the LTTE struck again. A Ukrainian built AN 32 carrying a contingent of special forces troops was shot down north west of Palaly as it was coming down to land. The aircraft which was not equipped to fly in a ‘missile threat environment’ was taking a contingent of troops to join the assault on Jaffna town.

About 510 officers and men died during the Jaffna campaign and a further 1300 wounded. The dead included about 50 officers and men who died when the LTTE shot down the AN 32 on November 22, 1995.

The LTTE almost succeeded in routing the Jaffna forces in early 2000. The fall of Elephant Pass base in late April 2000 made their task easier. The army managed to thwart the offensive with the induction of multi barrel rocket launchers. Fortunately the forces did not face the missile threat and that made their task relatively easier.


After a few limited operations in the North and East, the Sri Lanka Army launched its longest and largest operation code named "Operation Jayasikurui" on 13 May 1997. The aim of the operation was to regain the LTTE-held Wanni and Mullaitivu areas and subsequently to open a land route through Wanni and Kilinochchi districts to link up with the Jaffna Peninsula. The Operation was conducted in four stages. During the inception of the operation, it was commanded by the Overall Operations Commander Major General A K Jayawardane and in the latter part was commanded by Major General C S Weerasooriya. The Sri Lankan Army's most elite Divisions and Brigades were involved in this operation throughout and turned the pages of Sri Lanka Army history by launching divisions in multi-directional, wider frontages and gaining territory from the enemy, causing heavy damage and casualties to LTTE. The Army were able to capture the strategic towns which were the strongholds of the LTTE such as Omanthai, Kanagarayankulam and Mankulam. Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force, too, were involved in the Operation over and above their organic tasks by deploying troops in a ground role to man the Forward Defence Lines (FDLs). During the Operation, ground troops monitored terrorist radio transmissions and other intelligence sources confirmed that 3614 terrorists were killed in action and (KIA) 1899 wounded in action (WIA). The Army’s 53 division consists of a Commando Brigade, a Special Forces Brigade and an Air Mobile Brigade that took the brunt of most of the confrontations along with 54, 55, 56 and 21 Divisions. Though the Operation was terminated in 1999 without completion of its prime aim, was able to force the LTTE and to restrict their freedom of action only to Mullativu area. The Army concentrated on capturing LTTE bases in Mulathivu and in Pudukudirippu, thereafter.


With the termination of Operation Jayasikurui, Security Forces continued offensive operations in the Wanni Operation Theatre. Operation Rivibala commenced in early December 1998 and was commanded by Commander Security Forces Headquartrs (Wanni) Major General LP Balagalle VSV USP. Two offensive Divisions (53 and 55 Divisions) along with the SF Brigade launched the operation. The aim of this Operation was to capture ODDUSUDAN town and NEDUNKERNY – ODDUSUDAN road, further denying LTTE’s freedom of action in MULLAITIVU area. Troops were able to achieve total surprise and were successful in their mission. The LTTE suffered heavy casualties and losses during this Operation. Another land area of approximately 175-sq km was added to the Security Forces controlled areas in WANNI and MULLAITIVU Districts. Public response to the arrival of Security Forces was very remarkable and encouraging. The loss of the strategic town of ODDUSUDDAN created serious problems for the LTTE to defend its MULLAITIVU complex as well as to their reinforcement plans.


Sri Lanka Army in Wanni and Mannar Districts launched another series of offensive operations under the command of Commander Security Forces Headquarters (Wanni) Maj General LP Balagalle. Aim of this Operation was to regain control in LTTE-held Mundumurippu, Iranai, Illuppaikkulam and Puwarasankulam areas. 53 and 55 Divisions were tasked to capture the areas with the assistance of 56 Division in a defensive role. The Operation commenced early March 1999 in two directions, and Security Forces were able to capture a total area of 526 sq km, which included 17 villages and approximately 10,000 civilians. During the Operation troops confirmed 23 terrorists were killed and many were injured. In aftermath of the success of Security Forces in capturing the areas, the public indicated that they were happy to have been liberated from the LTTE under which they underwent various and many hardships by way of daily needs and the threat of children being recruited. Public were seeking assistance from the SF to bring their life to normalcy, by functioning of schools, medical assistance, transport facility and need of agricultural requirements.


After the major setback at Elephant Pass, SF are determined to defend Jaffna peninsula. Acquisition of new sophisticated long range weapons by the SF has become a terrible obstacle for the LTTE to launch further massive attacks on SF. Again it has proved that with the superior firepower of SF, LTTE is unable to hold their defenses close to SF controlled areas. Consequent to the two limited ops conducted by SF in NAGARKOVIL and COLOMBOTHURAI in early July 2000, LTTE had begin to strengthen their obstacle belts in front of own defenses. It is observed that these Defence lines have been further strengthening to meet own advances. An operation code named “OPERATION RIVIKIRANA” launched to attack and capture ARIYALAI, THHANANKILAPPU and KAITHADI areas in order to regain the control of Jaffna peninsula. The operation was commanded by Commander SF (J) Major General A E D Wijendra. 03 x Divisions were launched from three wider frontages simultaneously to achieve the aim. SF were able to inflict heavy casualties to the LTTE and created favorable ground to launch further SF operations. As per the intelligence sources it is estimated that the number of terrorists deaths should be around 250-260. It is evident that this Operation also caused a large amount of irreparable losses to the LTTE.


Following the SF Operation “RIVIKIRANA”, the LTTE had shifted most of its reserve groups to replace dead and wounded cadres from POONARYN to THANANKILAPPU/ARIYALAI areas. In anticipation of further SF Operation in the North, the LTTE leaders operating in THANANKILAPPU/ARIYALAI areas have warned their cadres to be more vigilant and rehearse contingencies in coordination with Arty/Mortar. The LTTE’s immediate offensive plan was to launch an attack on newly established SF defences in order to push back the SF to former defence line using maximum fire power. SF launched operation KINIHIRA - I to regain control of CHAVA in order to impede terrorist’s movements and supplies through TTHANANKILAPPU – CHAVA road. Operation was commanded by commander SF (J) Major General A E D Wijendra. 04 x Divisions (51,52,53 and 55 Divisions) took part in this Operation 02 x Divisions carried out two separate Bunker Busting operations simultaneously to facilitate the offensive action by other 02 x Divisions. As per the plan, two offensive divisions with their swift and bold offensive actions were able to capture CHAVA area and regain approximately 03 sq km of land area including CHAVA town proper and up to KILALI lagoon front. Intelligence sources revealed that the LTTE has suffered heavy casualties/damages to its men, material and equipment. Further it was confirmed that LTTE suffered with 127 x KIA and 135 x WIA (majority critical).


LTTE has revamped the deployment of cadres and Arty/Mortar positions in the Northern operation theatre after they lost strategic town CHAVA. It is further proven that LTTE’s inability to hold the ground against the relentless fire power of SF. Overall intent of this operation was to regain control of KAITHADI, NUNAVIL, THANANKILAPPU and ARIYALAI areas in order to impede terrorists freedom of action and deny dominance of the area. Operation was launched with 04 x divisions with SF Brigade, Commando Brigade and Armour Brigade. This operation too was conducted along with diversionary operations in the flanks in order to facilitate the offensive action of attacking troops. Troops were able to achieve the aim successfully and defeated the terrorists by denying the vital grounds. Troops breached the terrorists first line of defense and attacked the bunkers in second line of defence. This offensive action against the LTTE caused massive destruction over its men and material by killing more than 50 terrorists and injuring 70 terrorists.


Heavy losses and damages caused to the LTTE during the Op KINIHEERA I/ II has been able to reduce the morale and the will to fight of its cadres in the area. Offensive SF troops further continues to defeat the LTTE and regain control in the entire Jaffna peninsula. Aim of these operations was to capture SARASALAI – PUTHUR (B 70) road and gain control of the area MADUVIL SOUTH and NUNAVIL EAST. 52 Division was launched to the operation with SF Brigade. Troops successfully captured the area. Series of other limited ops/Bunker Busting operation in the other parts of the peninsula facilitated the offensive action by the 52 Division troops. Ground troops and other intelligence sources confirmed that the LTTE have suffered 59 x KIA and 72 x WIA and troops were able to capture a lot of war like items and LTTE dead bodies.


Consequent to the previous successful SF operations LTTE terrorists in the areas of THANANKILAPPU, ARIALAI and KAITHADI were well determined to adopt all possible counter measures against further possible exploitation by SF to their controlled areas. A significant increase of LTTE activities were also observed and constant presence of their prominent leaders too became a clear indication of low state of morale of their junior cadres due to relentless aggression displayed by the SF troops. Aim of this operation was to capture and regain the control of general area NUNAVIL EAST and further expansion of the SF controlled area. 53 Division inducted the SF troops along with Special Force Brigade, Air Mobil Brigade troops from previously held Forward Defence Line. Under the heavy resistance of terrorists Arty and Mortar fire, troops successfully captured the NUNAVIL EAST and expended the existing Forward Defence Line further towards KAITHADI Bridge area including a part of A 9 road. Troops were able to kill more than 30 terrorists and inflicted heavy casualties to the fleeing terrorists. Subsequent clearing in the area by the SF troop recovered a large quantity of Small Arms ammunition, Mortar Bombs and personal weapons.


With the success of recent SF Operations KINIHIRA IV STAGE II, LTTE had begun to increase the construction of defenses in NUNAVIL area. LTTE cadres who have been deployed in the area have criticized their leader ship and shown displeasure in manning of defenses mainly due to the supreme fire power of SF and the increasing death total and casualties. he Aim of the operation was to capture area MADDUVIL SOUTH and NUNAVIL WEST including A-9 road (CHAVAKACHCHERI - JAFFNA) up to KAITHADI BRIDGE in order to make favourable grounds to launch future offensives and to inflict maximum casualties to terrorists. Operation was conducted in conjunction with several Bunker Busting Operations to facilitate the major offensive. 53 Div troops advanced as planned and were able to breach the LTTE strong points in their first line of defenses. Finally troops captured the objective under heavy resistance of LTTE long range indirect fire. SF Arty and Mortar fire conducted Counter Battery Fire successfully and neutralized most of their Mortar and Arty gun positions. Ground troops and other sources confirmed that 26 terrorists were killed and 34 wounded and massive destruction caused to their mortar positions with explosives held within it.


During the series of KINIHIRA operations against the LTTE, troops had caused irreparable destruction to them and it had led to a greater degree of damage to their command and control over the junior cadres. Mainly due to their inability to resist heavy casualties and covert tactics adopted by the mighty offensives by the SF, it ad arisen the displeasure among their cadres towards the leadership. Leaving dead and wounded and equipment behind clearly indicated the state of dedication and moral of the LTTE during the operations. Troops broke out from the previously held positions towards ARIALAI EAST and THANANKILAPPU areas with the aim of capturing NAVATKULI BRIDGE and complete A9 high way road and also to regain the control of the area. LTTE abandoned the area and continuously engaged the troops with long range weapons and the complete area was heavily booby trapped with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Anti Personnel Mines. It indicates that LTTE has pre planed for a withdrawal. It is also clearly evident that LTTE is now experiencing its one of the worst periods due to heavy losses to their men and material. Troops captured the NAVATKULI BRIDGE and extended its defenses up to THANANKILAPPU – KARATHIVU JETTY and to ARIALAI EAST by liberating entire JAFFNA PENINSULA. Troops clearing the areas captured were able to recover a large number of small arms, ammunition and mortar bombs left by the terrorists.

Inability to withstand the firepower of SF and increased number of casualties suffered during recent operations resulted in creating a fear psychosis and compelled the LTTE cadres to withdraw from THANANKILAPPU/ARIALAI. According to sources the withdrawal had taken place soon after SF gained control over the strategically important bridges at NAVATKULI and KAITHADI. It is also significant to note that the declaration of the “ceasefire” was announced as a last resort with a view to preventing any further operations by SF to gain complete control of the areas in THANANKILAPPU/ARIALAI. However, stockpiling of arms and ammo had been reported with a view to countering any SF advances from the SF FDL of NAGARKOVIL/KILALY. The LTTE cadres, who were operating in LTTE controlled in South East of THENMARACHCHI and South East of VADAMARACHCHI, were strengthening their defences to face any future military operations conducted by the Security Forces. Aim of this operation was to capture MUHAMALAI, AVERIKADU and PONNAR areas and to inflict maximum casualties on terrorists. 55 Div launched this offensive operation in two stages with Armour Brigade and Commando Brigade.



Amidst the initial thrust troops of 55 Div gained the initiative and reached their initial objectives maintaining the tempo of the offensive. Assaulting troops successfully repulsed the heavy terrorist attacks launched from North and East of AVERIKADU. The 55 Div troops fought valiantly killing 45 terrorists. Finally troops were able to capture areas AVERIKADU and MUHAMALAI. On completion of Stage I approx 8 Sq Km of area were captured and 42 LTTE bodies were handed over to LTTE through ICRC.


During OP KINIHIRA IX, SF were able to inflict heavy casualties on terrorists by direct/indirect fire. During the previous operations SF were able to kill a large number of terrorists and forced them to pull back most of their cadres including reserves in further south. This operation was launched to capture area MUHAMALAI and to expand the existing - FDL in order to provide further stability to ELUTHUMADDIVAL, ELUTHUMADDIVAL NORTH and NAGARKOVIL. The Operation was launched as planned by 53 Div troops, in order to capture area up to MUHAMALAI. SF troops managed to proceed up to the objective and maintain surprise to its maximum extent. Troops infiltrated the terrorist defence line and launched a successful diversionary attack on pre-identified positions, terrorist bunker line in KILALY under stiff resistance causing heavy damages to terrorists. Troops confirmed at least 25 x terrorists were killed and 08 x terrorist bunkers destroyed. In a series of silent maneuvers the Security Forces captured an area of approx 8 Sq Km in MUHAMALAI including approximately 2 ½ Km of the A 9 road towards PALLAI. The terrorists had made a rapid retreat earlier fearing the inevitable advance of the Security Forces. Several fighting patrols of the terrorists were engaged when encountered by own groups, while others were allowed to move through to ensure surprise. The surprise achieved was such that the terrorists could not use their heavy concentration of mortars and artillery, as they were unaware of Security Forces positions until consolidation had progressed to a great extent. With this operation (KINIHIRA IX) the Security Forces had successfully recaptured the entire area conceded during Operation Unceasing Waves IV of the terrorists, in totality. It can now be claimed that Operation Unceasing Waves IV launched on 26 November 2000, was a total failure in which the terrorists lost 206 cadres and 288 were injured. The tactically important high ground in MUHAMALAI is now under Security Forces control. The terrorists have withdrawn as far back as possible fearful of facing the Security Forces in battle to the extent that they were prepared to give up ground which they fought hard to take at a heavy cost of lives.

LTTE suicide and time bombs were exploded numerous times in populated city areas and public transport, killing hundreds of civilians. In January 1996, the LTTE carried out their deadliest suicide bomb attack, at the Central bank in Colombo, killing 90 and injuring 1,400. In October 1997 they bombed the Sri Lankan World Trade Center and, in January 1998, detonated a truck bomb in Kandy, damaging the Temple of the Tooth, one of the holiest Buddhist shrines in the world. In response to this bombing, the Sri Lankan government outlawed the LTTE and with some success pressed other governments around the world to do the same, significantly interfering with their fund-raising activities.

The LTTE returned to the offensive with "Operation Unceasing Waves" on November 2, 1999. Nearly all the Vanni rapidly fell back into LTTE hands. The LTTE launched 17 successful attacks in the region which culminated in the overrunning of the Paranthan Chemicals Factory base and the Kurrakkan Kaddukulam base. Thousands were killed. The rebels also advanced north towards Elephant Pass and Jaffna. The LTTE was successful in cutting all land and sea supply lines of the Sri Lankan armed forces in the town of Kilinochchi and surrounding areas. In December 1999 the LTTE tried to kill Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga. She lost one eye, among other injuries.

As early as February 2000, Norway was asked to mediate by both sides. The LTTE observed a unilateral ceasefire from December 2000 to April 2001; after this it launched another offensive. After securing a vast area controlled by the government forces, the LTTE further advanced northwards. This advancement of the LTTE was posing a serious threat to the Elephant Pass military complex that housed 17,000 troops of the Sri Lankan forces.[12] On April 22, 2000 the Elephant Pass military complex, which had separated the Jaffna peninsula from the Vanni mainland for 17 years, completely fell to the hands of the LTTE.[13][14]

The LTTE declared a unilateral ceasefire in December 2000, but cancelled it on April 24, 2001. The army launched Operation Agni Khiela to take back the southern Jaffna Peninsula, but sustained losses. The LTTE carried out a suicide attack on Bandaranaike International Airport in July 2001, destroying eight of the air force's planes (2 IAI Kfirs,2 Mil-17,4 K-7 trainers) and four Sri Lankan Airlines planes (2 Airbus A330s, 1 A 340 and 1 A320), dampening the economy and causing tourism to plummet. Sri Lankan hopes for a military solution faded.

In 2001, however, the LTTE began to declare their willingness to explore measures that would safeguard Tamils' rights and autonomy as part of Sri Lanka, and announced a unilateral ceasefire just before Christmas 2001. The LTTE are believed to have taken this action after fear of international pressure and even direct US support of the Sri Lankan Government as part of the War on Terror.

The government was facing increasing criticism over its "war for peace" strategy, with peace nowhere in sight. After losing a no-confidence motion, the elections of December 5, 2001 saw the defeat of the PA and the victory of Ranil Wickremasinghe's United National Front on a pro-peace platform.

The new government reciprocated another unilateral LTTE ceasefire offer on December 24, 2001. The two sides formalized it in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in February 2002. Norway was named mediator, and, together with the other Nordic countries, it also monitored the ceasefire through the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

(To be edited)

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