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Fonseka denies war crimes reports and pledges to protect army

Sri Lanka’s former army general Sarath Fonseka denied all reports that troops under his command committed war crimes and reiterated his commitment to defending the army.

Speaking to The Island at a media briefing organized by the Information Department at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) Mr Fonseka also denied reports that tens of thousands of civilians had been killed during the final stages of the armed conflict.

The Island reported the recently appointed minister as saying “the much-repeated allegation that 40,000 civilians were killed during the last two months of the battle against the LTTE was a blatant lie.”

He also “strongly denied UN allegations in respect of indiscriminate artillery fire directed at civilians, as well as hospitals and makeshift medical facilities”.

Mr Fonseka went on to say that he had “direct access to real time footage obtained by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) operating over Vanni” which were so accurate, the Sri Lankan military could even visualise the flags draped over the bodies of dead LTTE cadres.

He went on to add that the large number of missing people from the final stages of the conflict were actually LTTE cadres who had died in the fighting – however the former commander later says that there were only 35,000 LTTE fighters.

"I had 200,000 officers and men under my command,” said Mr Fonseka, adding that he was in constant touch with field commanders on the front lines. "I contacted them thrice a day from China."

The minister concluded by saying his strategy was to “kill as many terrorists as possible without bringing territory under Army control”.

“At the end, the Army had to prevail," he concluded.