About 9,000 Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed by government troops since the government launched its military offensive in August 2006, Sri Lankan Army Commander Sarath Fonseka told reporters on Monday.
Fonseka told a gathering of Colombo-based foreign reporters that 1,700 government troops were also killed and 4,000 injured in the past two years in the military action against the Libation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north and east.
The commander estimated that the LTTE still has about 5000 fighters, but "their capability has gone out."
He said within about one year, the LTTE will lose its ability as a conventional force and can no longer fight with the troops in the same manner as before.
However, Fonseka said the LTTE may exist for another two decades even after the troops capture the whole area currently controlled by the group, but they can only carry out some small attacks on limited targets.
"At some stage, the whole north will be captured by government troops," the commander stressed.
Having taking control of the whole Eastern Province from the LTTE in July 2007, the troops are currently battling the LTTE in the north with the aim of crushing the organization before the end of 2008.
The LTTE has been fighting against the government since the mid-1980s to establish an independent homeland for the island's minority Tamils, which led to the death of more than 70,000 people.