CNN Balkan Conflict News

Raids continue over Sarajevo; Bosnian Serbs may be yielding

[Damaged tower] August 31, 1995 -- 6:15 p.m. EDT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- NATO's massive air campaign against the Bosnian Serbs continued Thursday amid reports of a possible retreat by the rebel Serbs.

The Associated Press quotes an unnamed United Nations official as saying Bosnian Serbs were seen today moving heavy weapons way from Sarajevo. Pentagon officials have not confirmed the report, although one source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said shelling of Sarajevo by the Bosnia Serbs had "basically stopped."

NATO aircraft carried out four separate bombing raids in the Sarajevo area Thursday. A Pentagon source said Thursday afternoon there had been no pause in the massive air campaign against the Bosnian Serbs.

Asked whether Bosnian Serbs have complied with demands to withdraw artillery from the exclusion zone around Sarajevo, the source said, "You can surmise that if the bombing continues there has not been adequate movement of the artillery."

The source said Bosnian Serb shelling of Sarajevo had "basically stopped" adding that he hoped the calm would continue.

The U.N. commander in Sarajevo, Gen. Bernard Janvier, has sent a letter to the Serbs telling them that the withdrawal of their heavy weapons from a 12-mile exclusion zone around the city is one of the requirements for the bombing raids to stop. He reportedly went to Pale Thursday to meet with Serb leaders.

Conflicting reports on fate of European Union monitors

In Pale, Bosnian Serb TV showed pictures of five European Union monitors, casting doubt on previous reports the five had been killed in NATO bombing.

A Spanish foreign ministry official in Madrid told CNN the foreign ministry is "working to confirm this latest news". Foreign ministry spokesman Jesus Atienza said Spain had not received any word from the monitors themselves or from any Bosnian Serb or Belgrade officials, nor from the United Nations, regarding the purported news regarding the monitors.

[Grounded plane] U.S. pilots hampered by cloud cover

Pilots aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt told CNN's Brent Sadler they were being hampered by poor visibility caused by low cloud cover. (See "Pilots battle missiles and bad weather over Bosnia")

The pilots also reported fire from Serbian anti-aircraft guns and from shoulder-mounted missiles. No planes were reported lost in Thursday's raids.

U.S. adding planes to NATO force

The Pentagon source said the U.S. is sending 10 additional planes to the area from bases in the U.S., some of which have already arrived. None of the additional planes are fighters, he said. Most are tankers, radar jammers, planes for suppressing enemy air defense, and command and control planes, he said. The official called the dispatch of additional planes a precautionary measure, not an indication there would be larger strikes.

In addition, the Pentagon said the USS America, due to relieve the Roosevelt, was on its way to the Mediterranean and a decision would be made soon whether to keep both ships in place.

French pilots still missing

Early Thursday, NATO commanders said missions were focusing on damage assessment and the recovery of two French pilots show down by a missile on Wednesday.

The French Defense Minister, Charles Millon, said the two pilots had been in contact with NATO and not been captured by the Serbs. Efforts to find the two were called "extensive" but officials would not comment further saying anything they disclosed might endanger the pilots.

The French Mirage 2000 shot down Wednesday was hit by a shoulder-mounted missile.

NATO officers said the objective of Wednesday's raids had been to take out the Serb surface-to-air missile sights, the radar system that supported them, and other anti-aircraft weapons.

Peace talks moving forward

On the diplomatic front, U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke came away from marathon negotiations with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic expressing positive feelings about getting the Serbs from Belgrade and Pale to negotiate with the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims.

Following the negotiation sessions Wednesday, the Serbian information minister said the Bosnian Serbs had agreed to negotiate as members of a joint delegation headed by Milosevic.

A Bosnian government spokesman's announcement that the Pale Serbs and the Belgrade Serbs would accept the U.S. peace plan as a starting point for further talks, was seen by the officials as a signal that Milosevic--the estranged patron of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader--had ordered Karadzic to get on board.

Holbrooke flew to Zagreb, Croatia where he held talks with Croatian's president Franjo Tudjman and Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey.

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