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So far this year almost 600 Farc rebels have been killed in military operations and another 1000 have deserted.
Intelligence sources estimated that Farc now number less than 9000 fighters, way down from its 2002 peak of 16,000.
Two guerrillas were captured and the hostages were flown to a military base. "It will go down in history for its audaciousness and effectiveness." “The operation was absolutely impeccable," Ms Betancourt told Colombian radio just hours after she was freed, as she described the ruse played by Colombian soldiers on the FARC rebels.
"They spoke and dressed like the guerrillas," she said, adding the operation began at dawn, when the hostages were told they were being transferred.
They claimed they had orders to fly the hostages by helicopter to a camp to meet with rebel leader Alfonso Cano.
"The helicopters, which in reality were from the army, picked up the hostages in Guaviare and flew them to freedom," Juan Manuel Santos, the defence minister, said.
Ingrid is going to seperate from her husband Jean Carlos Lecompte and Clara is finishing her book about six years captivity in the FARC.
"The Farc are still flush with drugs money and have a hard core of dedicated and experienced fighters.In a video released this year as proof she was still alive, she appeared particularly frail and had lost a lot of weight.She was also allowed to release a letter to her family, in which she said her strength had diminished, her appetite was gone, and her hair had started falling out."We are making an appeal to the leaders of the Farc not to kill them, to liberate the remaining hostages and to not sacrifice their own men." Ms Betancourt's family had urged Colombian authorities not to attempt to free her by force, for fear of putting her life in danger, despite her deteriorating health.There had been grave fears for Ms Betancourt's health.
Her son and daughter sent messages of support to her via Colombian radio, which she is believed to have heard, but been unable to respond to.