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Did Sri Lanka Defeat Terrorists or a Conventional Military Force in 2009?

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 2012 (ID. 2012-04-02)
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Ever since the Sri Lankan military defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009, the Sri Lankan government has been telling everyone who would listen that Sri Lanka is the only country that has defeated terrorists. It even organized a seminar for foreign militaries on how to defeat terrorism. Some countries even attended this seminar.

Did it really defeat terrorism? Sri Lankan military defeated the LTTE which was no longer engaged in terrorism; may be they were engaged in it in earlier years. At least during the final war that ended in 2009, it fought as a conventional military with its own army, organized like any national army, a moderate sized navy capable challenging and at times besting the Sri Lankan Navy, and even a tiny air force. During the final months of the war, it did not even fight like a guerrilla force engaged in hit and run attacks. Instead it fought as a conventional military force engaged in direct combat. (I have often wondered why it did not revert to guerrilla warfare. In fact the Sri Lankan military expected it to do so and calculated that it would take a few more years to destroy the Tamil Tigers, as LTTE was popularly known. Instead the collapse of LTTE was sudden and swift because it did not revert to guerrilla warfare.)

Look at the final months, weeks and days. LTTE did neither resort to guerrilla tactics nor terrorist attacks. There was not a single act of terrorism reported in newspapers in these final days (if anyone knows, please send us the reference). How did LTTE's Tiger Air Force use its last aircraft? Was it sent to bomb civilian targets? No. It could have easily bombed a crowded market or a movie theater to kill civilians. That is what terrorists would have done. Instead the final air attack targeted military assets only. It was easier to bomb civilian targets because they were not protected by anti-aircraft guns and radars whereas key military targets were.

Sri Lankan Air Force, on the contrary, targeted areas of civilian concentration in the final weeks of the war (as the United Nations Panel of Experts (UN Panel of Experts) concluded in 2011).

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