Sri Lanka army chief says war nearly won

July 19, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s army chief said Saturday his forces had wiped out two-thirds of the Tamil Tigers’ military capability, and that the decades-old conflict with the rebels was at its tail-end. Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would gradually start collapsing, the state-run Daily News paper said.

“We are almost at the beginning of the end… we are nearing the turning point now, through the way LTTE is reacting. In another three to four months time you would see very clearly how the things change,” he said.

He said security forces had already advanced 40 kilometres (25 miles) into rebel-controlled territory in the north.

The military drive is now moving fast, he said, indicating that rebels either offered little assistance or melted away. “Every week we move about three kilometres (1.9 miles) unlike in the past,” he said.

He said the Tigers had lost at least 9,000 fighters in the latest round of fighting, and put the rebels’ current strength at 5,000 combatants — with around 200,000 civilians forced to provide logistic support.

“Now we hear that they are training anybody over 15 years and below 50 years. But they