The Bryan Times, p. Front
1 July 1995.
NATO Jets Strike Bosnian Serb Troops
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — NATO jets blasted Bosnian Serb troops in U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica today to punish them for shelling the area and a U.N. camp, the United Nations said.
Early reports indicated a Bosnian Serb tank was hit, said U.N. spokesman Chris Gunness at U.N. headquarters in Zagreb, Croatia. Other tanks were seen heading south, away from the town in eastern Bosnia.
It was the first NATO airstrike since May 25-26, which had been followed by the seizure of hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers. The U.N. soldiers were released, and there had been unconfirmed reports that the United Nations had won their freedom by promising the Serbs not to call in NATO warplanes again.
Despite the attack, the eastern U.N. “safe area” of Srebrenica fell today to the Bosnian Serb army, a U.N. spokesman said.
Gunness said NATO warplanes were still in the air today an hour after the first strike. He called the operation “a close air support launched for the protection of the U.N. personnel in Srebrenica and also in response to the alarming situation in Srebrenica itself.”
Adm. Leighton Smith, the regional NATO commander, told Cable News Network from Naples, Italy, that the alliance has other warplanes “lined up, ready to go in to assist the United Nations people,” and that his intention was to continue the operation until U.N. officials say their positions are safe.
Since Sunday, the United Nations has warned repeatedly of possible airstrikes if the Bosnian Serbs did not abandon their tank and infantry offensive against the government-held enclave of 42,000 people.
On Monday night, Serb troops engaged in a firefight with a line of Dutch U.N. troops defending the town.
Srebrenica is the first “safe area” the United Nations established two years ago to protect civilians, but as with the five other U.N.-protected areas, the designation has not kept it out of the war.
Following Bosnian Serb attacks in “numerous locations” in the Srebrenica pocket today, the acting U.N. commander for Bosnia, Gen. Herve Gobilliard, “requested NATO to provide a close air support mission against Bosnian Serb positions … to protect U.N. forces and civilian population of Srebrenica,” said U.N. spokesman Jim Landale, reading a statement from the U.N. Bosnian command.
Another U.N. spokesman, Philip Arnold, told CNN from Zagreb that Serbs had come within two to three miles south of Srebrenica, and within 2,000 to 3,000 yards of the Dutch troops.
“The Dutch peacekeepers were under fire,” he said. “They certainly were threatened.”
NATO planes had buzzed Srebrenica for four hours this morning, a Western diplomat said in Sarajevo, then struck about 2.5 hours later.
Dutch Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Henk Schenkers said that airstrike was requested by the Dutch battalion commander in Srebrenica, Lt. Col. Tom Karremans.
Karremans had asked for air support during the firefight between the Serbs and the Dutch peacekeepers Monday night. Because it was dark and the Serbs were so close to the peacekeepers, the request did not go past the discussion stage until daylight, U.N. officials said.
U.N. spokesman Alexander Ivanko denied Bosnian army and government reports that the Serbs had entered the town and were fighting among outlying houses.
“There is a lot of panic among civilians in the town,” said Stephen Oberreit, a representative in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, of the Doctors Without Borders medical aid group.
The Serbs firing at the town had said Monday night that the inhabitants and U.N. peacekeepers had 48 hours to get out of the area and leave their weapons behind..
Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in Geneva that the Serb offensive had sent thousands of panicked refugees into the town proper, turning Srebrenica into a “massive concentration camp.”
The Bosnian Serb army has said it launched the offensive because government troops were crossing the enclave’s boundary to attack Serb positions [and this is, of course, one of many Serbian propaganda half-truths -- they never mentioned it was them who torched close to 300 Bosnian Muslim villages around Srebrenica and forced thousands of Bosniak people in the enclave of Srebrenica to suffer Serb-imposed starvation and shelling on a daily basis.]