Sri Lanka army chief vows to defeat Tiger rebels

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Feb 10, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s army chief again vowed to defeat Tamil separatists but refused to set a deadline for the end of the decades-old conflict, saying the rebels remain a potent force, a report said Sunday. Army general Sarath Fonseka said in an interview with the Lakbima weekly newspaper that a military campaign to capture the rebel-held Wanni region in the north begun in March last year was moving according to plan.

He however refused to give a timeframe for defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have fought for more than three decades to establish an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the Sinhalese-majority island.

“They are an organised force with a lot of experience. They have thousands of fighters. I don’t conduct the war looking at deadlines and timeframes,” Fonseka said in the interview published Sunday.

“Can a war that has been going on for more than 25 years be completed by March? But, what I say is — give us a chance.”

At the beginning of the year, in an interview with the state-run Sunday Observer, Fonseka said the LTTE had 3,000 fighters and pledged that the military could defeat them by mid-2008.

But in the interview published Sunday, he i