I’ll spend some time tonight collecting amusing quotes from defense commentators who explain that guerrilla armies and nationalist forces can never be defeated (and reining in my own hubris by pointing out that history shows us that things change over time), but for now let me toss out this:
Fierce fighting was reported Sunday in Sri Lanka in what appeared to be a final battle with Tamil separatist guerrillas as the country’s president declared that the quarter-century civil war had ended.
The Sri Lankan military reported that the last of tens of thousands of trapped civilians were pouring from the combat zone after months of bloodshed and that the remnants of the guerrilla force were launching suicide attacks as troops closed in on them.
On the verge of defeat, the rebels offered to lay down their arms, saying they wanted to protect civilian lives. There was no immediate response from the government, but it has ignored rebel calls for a cease-fire in recent months.
“My government, with the total commitment of our armed forces, has in an unprecedented humanitarian operation finally defeated the L.T.T.E. militarily,” said President Mahinda Rajapaksa in reference to the rebels, who are formally called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Surrounded on all sides by the Sri Lankan Army, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers as they are more commonly termed, have announced their surrender amidst news their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is dead.
The final round in what has been a long and drawn out campaign by the militant group for an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka came as news surfaced that the Sri Lankan military has recovered more than 150 bodies from the last remaining LTTE stronghold.