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British lawmakers call for restraint in Sri Lanka

 Sri Lankan ethic Tamil children look on as an exploded shell is seen in the foreground close to a make shift tent in Tamil Tiger controlled no fire z...
 An internally displaced Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil boy runs in the rain at a camp for displaced people in Cheddikulam, in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, Wednesday...

Sri Lanka Civil War

Sri Lankan ethic Tamil children look on as an exploded shell is seen in the foreground close to a make shift tent in Tamil Tiger controlled no fire z...

APTOPIX Sri Lanka Civil War

An internally displaced Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil boy runs in the rain at a camp for displaced people in Cheddikulam, in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, Wednesday...

A delegation of five British lawmakers urged the Sri Lankan government to "use maximum restraint" in their offensive against the separatist Tamil Tigers to spare tens of thousands of trapped civilians, officials said Wednesday.
Sri Lankan troops in recent months have ousted the rebels from their strongholds across the north and appear on the verge of ending the island nation's quarter-century-old civil war.
The government says the Tigers are cornered in a sliver of land just 2.4 miles (4 kilometers) long on the northeast coast.
International pressure has grown for a humanitarian truce to protect the estimated 50,000 civilians still in the war zone. Aid and rights groups accuse the rebels of holding the civilians as human shields, a charge the rebels deny.
"Our primary concern is for those civilians who remain trapped in the conflict zone and are living in terrible conditions," Des Browne, who led the delegation, was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the British High Commission on Wednesday.
Browne was named in February as Britain's special envoy to Sri Lanka, which rejected his appointment, underscoring its refusal to bow to foreign pressure on the war.
The delegation met top Sri Lankan officials and visited the displacement camps in the north during their two-day visit that concluded Tuesday. The delegation also included John Bercow, Malcolm Bruce, Eddie McGrady and Mohammad Sarwar.
"We urge the government to use maximum restraint in their ongoing operations," Browne said, asking the government to uphold it's commitment "to refrain from the use of heavy weapons."
The government promised last week to stop using heavy weapons out of deference to the civilians in the region. However, there have been persistent reports of shelling.
Reporters and independent observers are barred from the war zone, making it difficult to verify the conflicting reports.
A series of senior international visitors have met government officials in Colombo amid rising concerns for the stranded civilians, including the foreign ministers of Britain and France who appealed for a truce.
The government has repeatedly refused such appeals, saying it would only give the Tamil Tigers time to regroup.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickremanayake reiterated the government would not accept a truce and lashed out at foreign diplomats calling for a halt in the fighting.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a separate state for minority Tamils, who have suffered decades of marginalization at the hands of governments controlled by the Sinhalese majority.


Updated : 2021-03-07 18:00 GMT+08:00