Flush with confidence after retaking their main city two days ago, the army vowed to capture rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran as troops pushed deeper into northern territory long under the complete control of the guerrillas.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said in a New Year's address that 2009 would be the year of "heroic victory" over the Tigers, who have been waging war since 1972 to establish an independent homeland for ethnic Tamils.
Troops captured Kilinochchi, the de facto capital of the rebel state within a state on Friday, and the general leading the assault said his forces were now advancing on Mullaittivu, their last major centre of control.
"We are taking the offensive to the Mullaittivu jungles where Prabhakaran is hiding," Major General Jagath Dias told reporters flown into Kilinochchi for a short and carefully supervised visit to show the city was in army hands.
"We will hunt him down."
Journalists found a desolate town in which most of the buildi