Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

In pictures: Battle for Kilinochchi

Sri Lankan troops fire at Tamil Eelam rebels in Kilinochchi on 22 September 2008

Sri Lankan forces have been locked in a months-long campaign to take Kilinochchi, the de facto capital of the Tamil Tiger separatists in the north of the country near Jaffna.

Troops enter Paranthan on 1 January 2009 (Sri Lankan Defence Ministry handout)

Now Sri Lanka's military say their soldiers have entered the rebel capital. The capture of Kilinochchi would deal a severe blow to the Tigers, who have held it for a decade.

Weapons purportedly captured from government forces by Tamil Tiger rebels near Terumarikandi, south of Kilinochchi, on 12 December 2008 (Tamil Tiger handout)

It is where the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) have established their administrative headquarters and assembled the trappings of the separate state they want for Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority.

Sri Lankan troops in the village of Karambukulam on the outskirts of Kilinochchi on 22 September 2008

The military offensive against the rebels was ratcheted up after a six-year-old ceasefire brokered by Norway was abandoned at the beginning of 2008.

Tamil Tiger guerrillas allegedly in action in the north of the island on 11 December 2008 (Tamil Tiger handout)

Both sides have recently claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on each other in the north of the island, but there are no independent reports.

Soldiers in Nager Kovil in the Jaffna Peninsula, 6 April 2008

Thousands are estimated to have been killed and displaced since fighting escalated after 2005.

Government troops take Terumarikandi after heavy fighting with Tamil Tigers on 12 December 2008 (Sri Lankan Defence Ministry handout)

But with the latest capture of the rebels' de facto capital and the surrounding areas, the Sri Lankan army appears to have gained the upper hand.

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