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U.S. names suspected Serb war criminals

Rubin names nine Serb leaders who command forces suspected of committing war crimes in Yugoslavia

996K/117 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

NATO claims 'breakthrough' against Serb troops

NATO struggling to keep refugee camps sanitary

Will Yugoslavia free captured soldiers?

Kosovar refugee wants to go back home

NATO keeps up diplomatic pressure despite overtures from Belgrade


April 7, 1999
Web posted at: 4:54 p.m. EDT (1654 GMT)

In this story:

The names

Under orders?

Cohen: 'No time to pause'

U.S. denies it misjudged Milosevic


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States on Wednesday named nine top Serb commanders whose forces are believed to be conducting war crimes in Kosovo, warning them that they, as commanders, could be charged with crimes against humanity.

State Department spokesman James Rubin said the names were given to the International War Crimes Tribunal.

"These are the commanders, to the best of our knowledge, of the units that are in Kosovo," Rubin told reporters.

"We are not saying that these individuals are, to our knowledge, directly responsible for war crimes," Rubin said. "What we are doing is putting them on notice, warning them that we believe the (Serb) police forces and military forces are conducting war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"It's up to the tribunal to indict and name people as war criminals," Rubin added, noting there is no statute of limitation on the types of crimes involved.

That sentiment was echoed by White House press secretary Joe Lockhart.

"As the commanders of the Yugoslav forces look at what they do from day to day, they need to understand that there are consequences at the end of this -- and that the international community has a long memory and has the ability to gather evidence," Lockhart said.

"And as they move forward, they should keep in the back of their minds that there may be consequences for them when this is over," warned Lockhart.

The names

U.S. officials believe the nine commanders, whose names Rubin read aloud, are in charge of operations that have pushed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo since NATO bombing of Yugoslavia began two weeks ago:

  • Col. Milos Mandic, 252nd Armored Brigade, central Kosovo
  • Maj. Gen. Vladimir Lazarevic, Pristina Corps
  • Col. Mladen Cirkovic, 15th Armored Brigade, Pristina

  • Col. Dragan Zivanovic, 125th Motorized Brigade, Kosovska Mitrovica and Pec
  • Col. Krsman Jelic, 243rd Mechanized Brigade, Ursoevac
  • Col. Bozidar Delic, 549th Motorized Brigade, Prizren and Djakovica

  • Col. Radojko Stefanovic, 52nd Mixed Artillery Brigade, Gnjilane
  • Col. Milos Djosan, 52nd Light Air Defense Artillery-rocket Regiment, Djakovica
  • Maj. Zeljko Pekovic, 52nd Military Police Battalion, Pristina

Under orders?

The fact that the commanders may have been under orders from Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who has also been targeted by U.S. officials for possible prosecution, would not leave them immune from individual prosecution, Rubin said.

"The fact that someone is ordered to commit crimes does not relieve that person of the individual criminal liability," he said.

Rubin said U.S. officials were gathering evidence of war crimes to send to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, including incidents of mass execution, beatings and forced expulsion.

Cohen: 'No time to pause'

Clinton stands firm on demands that Milosevic accept a peace plan giving ethnic Albanians self-rule  

The Clinton administration on Wednesday repeated NATO's demand that Milosevic:

  • Pull back his forces
  • Allow refugees to return home under NATO protection
  • Accept a peace plan giving ethnic Albanians self-rule

"Nothing less will bring peace with security to the people of Kosovo," President Clinton said in Washington.

In a foreign policy address, Clinton stressed that the 19- member NATO alliance was united in its determination to make Milosevic comply with its demands.

On Tuesday, Milosevic declared a unilateral cease-fire with ethnic Albanian rebels in Kosovo.

But NATO, calling the move insufficient, ignored it Wednesday -- the 15th day of airstrikes -- hitting dozens of targets throughout Yugoslavia, including Serb ground forces "in and around Kosovo."

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said there would be no letup in air operations against Yugoslav forces.

Cohen says NATO's air campaign will intensify  

"This is no time to pause," he told a news conference.

Cohen said NATO warplanes would now "take the battle to individual units" of Yugoslav forces the alliance holds responsible for carrying out ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

The air campaign, which began March 24, would be "intensified in the coming days and weeks," Cohen said.

Speaking after meetings with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and alliance Supreme Commander Gen. Wesley Clark, Cohen said there were no plans to send ground troops into Kosovo.

Cohen arrived in Belgium with an 11-member bipartisan delegation of House and Senate members from committees with jurisdiction over national security issues.

The group was to visit U.S. forces at Aviano Air Base in Italy and Ramstein Air Base in Germany before returning to Washington on Thursday.

U.S. denies it misjudged Milosevic

Responding to a Washington Post story that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright misjudged Milosevic and the Yugoslav leader's resolve to withstand NATO punishment, Rubin called the report "fundamentally inaccurate."

According to the Post, Albright had argued repeatedly throughout 1998 that Milosevic would back down to the threat of force just as he appeared to do last fall when NATO warned it would launch airstrikes -- but didn't.

That conviction, the newspaper said, was a basic U.S. assumption during peace talks in France that failed to convince Milosevic to relent on his campaign against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.

Rubin denied that Washington miscalculated.

"The suggestion that Secretary Albright or any of the president's senior advisers were confident that President Milosevic would back off is just simply wrong," he told CNN.

As the administration's policy on Kosovo was being formed, he said, "all the president's senior advisors believed that the only chance to get President Milosevic to pursue peace was if we threatened force. ... It was the last best chance for peace."

The United States did not "expect him to back down after a day or two," Rubin said.

Lockhart also said the "president and his national security team have been united in moving forward this campaign." And he said he would put the Post story "in a pile that's growing steadily of inaccurate reports."

U.S. to receive first Yugo refugees on Friday
April 7, 1999
Rations make their way to displaced Kosovars
April 7, 1999
NATO rejects cease-fire, resumes bombing Yugoslavia
April 6, 1999
Cohen in Europe for NATO summit
April 6, 1999
The push and pull of ground troop policy
April 6, 1999
U.S. responds to cease-fire offer with vow to intensify attacks
April 6, 1999

Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites

  • Kosovo

  • International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from

  • F-117s arrive at Aviano to support possible NATO operations
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page

  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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