Sri Lankan forces have captured a key crossroads from Tamil Tiger rebels in the north and will seize the guerrillas' de facto capital by the weekend, the military said.
The fall of Kilinochchi would be devastating to the separatist group, which has been forced out of much of its territory in the north of the Indian Ocean island nation amid a renewed government offensive in recent months. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has promised to crush the rebel group and end the nation's 25-year-old civil war this year.
Senior officials have said repeatedly over the past two months that Kilinochchi would fall soon, but troops became bogged down by heavy rains and fierce rebel resistance. The town has been in rebel hands for about a decade.
Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said Thursday that the capture of the strategic Paranthan junction earlier in the day - after about six weeks of fighting - left troops about two kilometers from the town on both the north and the south.
"Kilinochchi will fall within the next 48 hours," he said.