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LTTE at its lowest ebb: Report
February 26, 2008 16:32 IST
Predicting that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's decline is "inevitable" in the current situation, the Jane's intelligence review has said the outfit is reeling under recruitment difficulties and international pressure over overseas fundraising and weapons procurement.
"With its maritime supply routes likely to become limited by its loss of land in north-west, unless a new political or military variable enters the equation, the decline of the LTTE is inevitable," it said.
The think tank said even the deadly LTTE attack in October, 2007, at the Anuradhapura air base that led to the destruction of some Sri Lankan aircraft fleet, would not reverse the outfit's setbacks.
"The recent ground and air attack in Anuradhapura, despite its psychological impact, is unlikely to reverse the perilous position of the LTTE now at its lowest ebb since the Indian intervention of late 1980s," the report says.
Indeed, the death of LTTE political head Thamilselvan in an air strike on November 2, 2007, came a day after the LTTE leadership conferred honours on the Air Tiger pilots involved in the Anuradhapura attack, it said.
It says air superiority was an integral part of the government's eastern victories earlier in the year and was likely to play a vital role in the government's campaign of attrition along the north-western coast.
"It is therefore likely the LTTE will attempt further attacks on Sri Lankan Airforce Facilities facilities, while committing its forces to slow the army's advance in south-western Vanni," the Jane's study said.
The study observed that current guerrilla tactics of the LTTE in east have not been "numerous or audacious" enough to force the Sri Lankan forces to divert its personnel to tackle the unconventional war tactics.
"This means the government's northern campaign will slowly advance, seeking to bleed the LTTE by retaining artillery pressure on the Forward Defence Lines and capturing portions of uncleared territory where it can," the study said.
It also raised a question mark on the deterioration of the Sea Tigers and the weak air force power of the LTTE.
"The denigration of the Sea Tiger fleet precludes all significant ability to dominate the coast or easily transport troops for strategic mobility. The limited aerial capabilities of the Tigers are high profile and may boost morale, but are of little tactical utility," the report said.
The defence think tank, however, cautioned against completely writing off the resilient LTTE.
"This does not yet suggest an end to the conflict or a military defeat of the LTTE. While it may lose territory, a reversion to guerrilla warfare in the east will likely be matched by a similar tactic in the jungles of the Vanni," the report added.
Weaponry will be supplied by "theft" from security forces, with the LTTE's estimated 7,000 fighters offering substantial resistance for years ahead, the journal said.
The movement's end has been forecast on many occasions since its inception in the 1970s, and the group has proven "adept at jungle fighting" in previous years, it said.
"The current crisis could yet prove to be the catalyst for lethal new innovations on the Sri Lankan battlefield," it said.