Each side commonly exaggerates enemy casualties while playing down its own.

The government has promised to defeat the LTTE by the end of this year.

The Tigers have strongly resisted and halted some military advances and diplomats and other observers say the army has faced more resistance than it expected.

Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for minority Tamils who have been marginalised by successive governments controlled by majority Sinhalese.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the decades long conflict.