NEW DELHI, DEC. 4 -- A top-ranking Indian military official said today that India is "beginning to see the turning of the tide" in its battle with Tamil guerrillas in Sri Lanka.

"Before long, {the rebels} will have no alternative but to surrender," said the officer, who spoke on condition that he not be identified.

Indian officials expressed similar confidence when their forces first went to Sri Lanka at the request of President Junius R. Jayewardene. They are there to enforce a peace accord signed by the two countries in July in an effort to end four years of virtual civil war between Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil populations.

Official Indian estimates suggest that the Tigers have lost more than half their force, now at between 1,500 and 2,000 active cadres. The operation, which was to have ended this month, has instead grown to include more than 25,000 Indian Army and paramilitary personnel. With no end in sight, the operation has been criticized in India.

Despite the claims of military progress, fighting continues. Nine Indian soldiers were among 33 people reported killed near Batticaloa in the Eastern Province yesterday, and nine other Indian soldiers were reported killed in incidents in the Jaffna Peninsula earlier in the week.