COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels announced Tuesday they would observe a unilateral ceasefire coinciding with a South Asian leaders' summit that starts on the island this week. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they had nothing against the meeting of the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, and pledged to only take defensive action if attacked. But the Sri Lankan government brushed off the offer, signaling its daily attacks against the rebels' northern mini-state would continue. "Our movement will observe a unilateral ceasefire... during the period of the SAARC conference from 26th July to 4th August and give our cooperation for the success of the conference," the Tamil Tigers said in a statement. Sri Lanka is hosting the 15th SAARC summit which also includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan. However the rebels said they would be forced to take "defensive action" if Colombo failed to respect the gesture and the military conducted operations. "If the occupying Sinhala forces (military) disrespects our goodwill gesture of our people and our nation, (or) carry out any offensives, our movement will be forced to take defensive action," said Balasingham Nadesan, the head of the LTTE's political wing. Fighting between Tigers and the military is currently centred around the north, but the rebels also carry out attacks against military, economic and civilian targets elsewhere on the island, including in and around the capital. The LTTE have been fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils since 1972, and the conflict has left tens of thousands dead. Sri Lanka pulled out of a Norwegian-backed truce with the LTTE in January, and says it has the upper hand in the long-running conflict. The government was also dismissive of the truce offer. "We will not respond to it," Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollegama told parliament Tuesday. "It has no binding on us." At least two similar truce offers were made by the rebels between 1994 and 2001, which were rejected by the then Sri Lankan government. The LTTE's Nadesan, however, also ruled out peace talks with the government, saying Colombo appeared determined to push ahead with a military solution. "The chauvinistic Sinhala regime (government) is putting its trust in a military solution, the war is spreading and is turning more and more intense." Sri Lanka's army chief said last week his forces had wiped out two-thirds of the rebels' military capability in the latest episode of the conflict, and that the war was at its tail-end. Fighting continued to rage in the north on Tuesday, with the defence ministry saying its troops had bombed a rebel training base, killing 22 suicide bombers, and sunk one of their boats. The government's claims cannot be independently verified because the ministry prevents journalists from travelling to the front lines or crossing into the rebel-held north.