Category Archives: war reportage

Douma: Terror from Many Sides and Confusing Tales. Hypoxia not Gas?

Robert Fisk, in The Independent, 15 April 2018with this titleThe search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack”

This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine.

an image from another source -viz. The Guardian

War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.

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April 19, 2018 · 2:03 pm

The Gash Files IV: The War on Land

Michael Roberts, with emphasis in bold being my imposition

I will be reproducing pertinent sections of Lt Col. Gash’s “Situation Reports” (or Sitrep) verbatim below in single spacing with the date of each despatch specified at the outset, while indicating blacked out sections where pertinent. These reproductions are extensive and demand careful reading. Vital bodies of information will be highlighted in red as a guideline for readers; but they are encouraged to form their own appraisals.

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April 16, 2018 · 10:59 am

Saving Tamil Civilians by Sea: More on the ICRC-cum-SL Navy Operations: Admiral Travis Sinniah Speaks

Michael Roberts

I sent my article “Gash Files III” to Admiral (Retired) Travis Sinniah as soon as it was placed on web and was able to conduct an extended Skype-Chat with him on 12th April.[1] He had no major quarrels with the gist of that article. However, he stressed that the whole exercise was an extremely difficult one – involving difficulties that words cannot quite capture.

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The Gash Files III: Trapped Tamils Out by Sea in 2009

Michael Roberts

As evident then and as confirmed by subsequent accounts, during the last phase of Eelam War IV from circa December 2008 segments of the corralled Tamil population began to rebel against the privations and dangers they were being subjected to by the LTTE’s grand strategy. While a considerable section of the people remained loyal to the LTTE to the very end,[1] others secured release from their situation through the efforts of international agencies working in cooperation with the LTTE and involving[2] the ICRC acting in concert with the Sri Lankan Navy and the Red Cross.

  Also see Roberts: TPS. Pictorial. Fig. 95 and its details

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TIGERS AT THE GATE from ABC: Mark Corcoran reads Prabhakaran in Mid-1999

After seeing the ABC production in the FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT SERIES entitled Tigers at the Gate” in mid-1999 I had the temerity to criticize the ABC and its producer Mark Corcoran. I should have attended to the blurb which presented this documentary on the ABC web site. This note ran: “The truth is a political solution is as impossible as a military breakthrough because for the (Tamil) Tigers its all or nothing– a homeland or glorious death.” (signed Mark Corcoran).

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The Gash Files II: LTTE’s Strategic Design

Michael Roberts

In Despatch COL/2/08 of12 March 2009 Lt. Col Anton Gash has this summary appraisal for his superiors: The LTTE has been forcing the civilian population to move in accordance with their tactical requirements. The NFZ is rigorously policed and patrolled by LTTE cadres, who control access to food and medical facilities, ensuring that their own needs are met before any capacity is allowed for civilians.”

This is a critical observation pointing in the right direction. Nevertheless, it falls short of the mark. The mass of Tamil civilians was not merely a tactical element. They were a central pillar in the LTTE’s grand strategy. For one, they constituted a defensive formation: just so many sandbags restraining the full deployment of the government forces’ military weaponry. While the standard description of the civilians as “hostages” in HR and Western circles does point in this direction, the terminology is “weak” and does not fully capture the overarching strategic purpose of the corralled civilian mass. In addition to serving as a restrictive ‘bund’, the civilian mass provided an active incentive for Western intervention in favour of a ceasefire and some sort of “political solution.

 a tent citty in the Tigers’ last redoubt –-Pic from UNPoE circa February 2009

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Looking Down a Ship’s Cannon: Vice Admiral Travis Sinniah in Q and A

Manjula Fernando, in Sunday Observer, 27 August 2017, where the title is “”I was always the target of the LTTE” …. Note: the highlighting is my imposition and see additional references at the end — Editor, Thuppahi

Speaking about his ascension to become the topmost Naval officer in the country, the son of a Tamil Naval doctor who developed a love for the service as a little boy, he says, “I was destined to be a front line executive officer to go out to sea, and carry out certain missions which would have changed the tide of the war with the LTTE.”

 

MANJULA FERNANDO’s QUESTIONS

Q: There is a popular perception that war heroes are born in a particular genre of schools. Are you the first Trinitian to be appointed to this prestigious post?

As the Navy Commander yes, I am the first. But, it doesn’t mean Trinitians haven’t gone to war. Trititians have fought in World War 1 as well as WW 11. Many Trinitians have served in the security forces but unfortunately, none have lived long enough to rise to the top. There were Trinitians, like Commander Shanti Bahar, Gen. Densil Kobbekaduwa and Lieutenant General Parami Kulatunga who made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of this country. I represent all of them. Continue reading

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