B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military on Tuesday claimed troops engaged in the final phase of “offensive to free entire country from LTTE” had marked a decisive milestone by reaching the Iranapalai junction.

The Defence Ministry described it as a strategically vital junction in Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mullathivu district.

With the fall of Iranapalai, the Tigers were now confined to a land mass of about 20 sq. km.

The final phase of the operation against the LTTE was taking time due to presence of large number of civilians. The Tigers and the military have accused each other of firing at and from the designated “No Fire Zones”.

The Ministry conceded that capture of Iranapalai was preceded by intense fighting. There are no signs of LTTE giving up fighting even in the face of an imminent defeat.

The Navy claimed it had rescued 139 Tamil civilians in the seas between Chundikulum and Vettileikerni. The group was found on board dinghies with white flags.