No full-scale war in Sri Lanka: chief monitor

July 31, 2006 (AFP) – Heavy fighting between Sri Lankan forces and Tamil Tiger rebels that killed at least 44 combatants Monday was unlikely to lead to full-scale war, the top Scandinavian truce monitor Ulf Henricsson said. The retired Swedish army general who leads the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said a return to full-scale conflict would be disastrous for both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers.

“I still don’t believe in a full-scale war,” Henricsson told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association here. “None of the parties are prepared to face a full-scale war that would be disastrous for both sides.”

He said the spike in fighting since Wednesday could also lead to a possible negotiation between the two sides.

The latest fighting broke out when the military launched an offensive to lift a rebel blockade of an irrigation canal that deprived thousands of farmers of water in the northeast district of Trincomalee.

“If water is the issue, this is the wrong way to go about it… They could end up having more water than they need,” Henricsson said warning that heavy bombardments could damage the small dam in Maavilaru.

He said the 54-member Nordic mission was not ruling on the recent militar