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Sri Lankan army to scale down presence in former war zones

(Xinhua)

15:36, March 02, 2012

COLOMBO, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan army has decided to scale down its presence in the north and east of the country, two areas which were once the battle zone in the war between the military and Tamil Tiger rebels, the military said on Friday.

Sri Lankan army commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya said that the army is now completely ready for far-reaching reforms in its structural composition vis-a-vis ground realities, security and assisting in development projects.

The Sri Lankan government had come under criticism by some groups, mostly minority Tamil political parties, over the heavy military presence in the north and east despite the end of the war three years ago.

"While scaling down the number of different regimental and area headquarters and presence of troops in the north and east, plans are afoot to assemble more and more battalions together to form only most required headquarters," the Sri Lankan army chief said.

Following the end of the war the Sri Lankan army got involved in construction work to erect holiday resorts for the military and upgrade existing facilities for rest and recreation.

"Those skilled troops who fought at the operational front during humanitarian operations are to be deployed exclusively for security arrangements while other support arms with assortment of multi-faceted vocational skills are to be used for all island-wide development work," Jayasuriya said.

The Sri Lankan army is facing allegations of committing war crimes during the final stages of the war against the rebels.

A resolution is expected to be presented at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland calling on Sri Lanka to hold accountable those accused of committing human rights abuses during the war.

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