|Part of the Sri Lankan civil war, Eelam War I|
|Military of Sri Lanka||Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Lt. Gen. (later Gen.) Nalin Seneviratne,
Brig. (later Lt. Gen.) G. H. De Silva,
Brig. (later Lt. Gen.) Denzil Kobbekaduwa,
Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Vijaya Wimalaratne
|Casualties and losses|
|689 killed||631 killed|
Operation Liberation or the Vadamarachchi Operation was the military offensive carried out by the Sri Lankan military in May and June 1987 to recapture the territory of Vadamarachchi in the Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE (Tamil Tigers). It was first conventional warfare engagement on Sri Lankan soil after the end of British colonial rule.
Brig. Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Col. Vijaya Wimalaratne led the government troops. Brig. G. H. De Silva acted as the Overall Operations Commander. Former Sri Lankan President Junius Richard Jayewardene and minister of National Security Lalith Athulathmudali had political leadership for the operation until the government of India dropped food supplies over Jaffna in Operation Poomalai on June 4, 1987, which prompted the government to accept the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord.
The offensive started on May 26, 1987, under the leadership of two commanders with 8,000 troops from several battalions from Gemunu Watch (under the Command of Lt. Col. Vipul Botheju and Lt. Col. Wasantha Perera), Gajaba Regiment (under the command of Lt. Col. Sathis Jayasundara and Maj. Gotabaya Rajapaksa) and Sri Lanka Light Infantry (under Lt. Col. Naradha Wickramarathne and Maj. Sarath Fonseka), supported by the Sri Lanka Air Force. Brig. G. H. de Silva was in commanded of the 2 Brigade Group, tasked on Deception planning and Holding Operations. It was difficult for the troops to break out from the Thondamanaru area because LTTE forces blew up the Thondamanaru bridge to delay the government forces from reaching Valvettithurai, the birthplace of LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran. The eastern side of Thondamanaru was heavily mined by the LTTE and clearing of the mines and booby traps were left to a 2nd Field Engineer Squadron of the Sri Lanka Engineers commanded by Maj. Lucky Rajasinghe. The first day of the battle belonged mainly to the field engineer squadron. Engineers neutralized and removed mines and booby traps left by LTTE forces, losing 42 men in four hours and suffering injuries to its commander Maj. Rajasinghe. The unit crossed the minefield under intense fire from LTTE bunkers, with support from 1 Gajaba Regiment commanded by Maj. Gotabaya Rajapakse. On May 28 troops managed to capture Udupiddy and Valvettithurai, and another column (commandos, under the command of Maj. Sarath Handapangoda) captured Nelliady and advanced towards Point Pedro without giving LTTE units time to regroup. By the first week of June the government forces managed to gain control over the entire zone and captured large amounts of arms left behind by retreating LTTE forces. Military intelligence discovered that LTTE leader Prabakaran, along with Sea Tiger leader Col. Soosai, narrowly escaped from advancing troops.
The second stage of this operation was launched on June 3, 1987, with the goal of capturing the city of Jaffna, but was abandoned. Indian military cargo planes escorted by fighter aircraft dropped humanitarian relief supplies in the Jaffna area on June 4 in Operation Poomalai. Indian forces landed in Sri Lanka on July 29 with the signing of the Indo-Sri-Lankan accord.
- Both Brig. (later Lt. Gen.) Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Vijaya Wimalaratne were killed on August 8, 1992, while making preparations for an operation to capture the Jaffna Peninsula.
- Brig. (later Gen.) Gerry H. De Silva subsequently became the 13th Commander of the Sri Lankan Army and Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Pakistan.
- Maj. (later Field Marshal) Sarath Fonseka subsequently became the 18th Commander of the Sri Lankan Army and the common opposition presidential candidate in 2010 representing the New Democratic Front.
- The former Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Lt. Col. (Ret) Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, participated in the military offensive, then as a Major.
- "Welcome to UTHR, Sri Lanka". Uthr.org. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
- The 1st. Battalion of the Gemunu Watch
- Operation Liberation One, The Sunday Times, Retrieved 6 April 2015
- Full text of H.Efs speech at the War Heroes commemoration event at the Ananda College, Old Anandians Web Japan, Retrieved 6 April 2015
- Sri Lanka taught world the art of humane ops-President, Ministry of Defence, Retrieved 6 April 2015
- "Commandants". ceylondatabase.net. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- Dissanayaka, T.D.S.A.: War or Peace in Sri Lanka, Volume II. Swastika (Pvt.) Ltd., Colombo 1998.
- Dixit, J.N.: Assignment Colombo, ISBN 81-220-0499-7. (Dixit was the Indian High Commissioner during the 1980s negotiations that led to the IPKF presence.)
- Hoole, R., Somasundaram, D., Sritharan K., and Thiranagama, R. The Broken Palmyra - The Tamil Crisis in Sri Lanka: An Inside Account. The Sri Lanka Studies Institute, Claremont 1990. (Also available online .)
- Narayan Swamy, M. R.: Tigers of Lanka: from Boys to Guerrillas. Konark Publishers; 3rd ed. 2002, ISBN 81-220-0631-0.
- War and Peace in Sri Lanka: With a Post-Accord Report From Jaffna. ISBN 9552600014/ISBN 978-9552600012, Institute of Fundamental Studies, Sri Lanka; 1 edition (October 1, 1987), By Rohan Gunaratna.
- Indian intervention in Sri Lanka: The role of India's intelligence agencies. ISBN 9559519905/ISBN 978-9559519904, South Asian Network on Conflict Research (1993), By Rohan Gunaratna.
- Official websites
- The role of the air force during Operation Liberation
- Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka
- Government of Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat
- LTTE Peace Secretariat
- Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
- Independent reports and texts
- Texts of key agreements in the peace process and an analysis of the process by Conciliation Resources
- Report on the Sri Lankan peace process by Asiafoundation
- hWeb - Sri Lanka’s recent history of ethnic conflict and political crisis originates from its colonial legacy