CNN Balkan Conflict News

NATO renews assault on Bosnian Serbs


Defiant Bosnian Serb general may be losing support

September 6, 1995 -- 6:30 p.m. EDT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- Bosnian Serbs were battered by a new round of NATO air strikes after sky cleared over Sarajevo Wednesday evening.

NATO is planning a new phase of heavier bombing, sources told CNN Wednesday.

The evening attacks followed strikes earlier Wednesday that had been stalled by bad weather. Adm. Leighton Smith, the commander of NATO forces in southern Europe, said those attacks were "successful," but declined to elaborate. Bosnian Serb police sources said the targets included installations near two military headquarters.

A senior intelligence official said Wednesday that two straight days of air and artillery assaults have pounded the Serbs to near submission.

The official also said intelligence leads the Western alliance to believe that Bosnian Serb military leader Gen. Ratko Mladic has been forsaken by his old patron, Slobodan Milosevic, president of what is left of the former Yugoslavia.

Karadzic Milosevic and Bosnian President Radovan Karadzic had been at odds. Now the source said they appear to have consolidated their positions against Mladic and are pushing him to stop the fighting as the Geneva talks on building a framework for a possible Bosnia settlement are about to open Friday. (Karadzic downplays disagreement. 400K aiff sound)

The source explained that Serb artillery around Sarajevo is silent primarily in fear of precision retaliation from Rapid Reaction Force howitzers and other heavy guns. Electronic targeting locks those guns on Serb positions whenever they are put in action.

map Earlier Wednesday, Karadzic told CNN that the Serbs were withdrawing their weapons from around the Bosnian capital. He condemned the NATO attacks and called for an end to the bombing. "We have been bombarded as if we didn't make any move," he said. "As a matter of fact, this morning we have removed as much weaponry as we could do concerning the safety of our people." (More from Karadzic -- 150K .aiff sound file)

The NATO attacks haven't quieted the Bosnian Serbs entirely. U.N. troops Wednesday inspected damage caused by Serb shelling in Sarajevo the night before. That attack triggered return fire from the U.N. forces.

NATO resumed air raids against Bosnian Serb targets Tuesday after a four-day hiatus. And U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said the bombing campaign will go on "as long as needed and as intensely as needed" to accomplish its objective. NATO has been concentrating mostly on ammunition storage sites and command and control centers after knocking out most of the Serb air defense sites the week before. At a Pentagon photo session welcoming Polish Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski, Perry said most of smart bombs being used have been hitting within 10 feet of their aim points.

Bosnian soldiers Perry said the bombing cannot guarantee the Bosnian Serbs will comply with U.N. and NATO demands, the chief of which is the removal of Serb heavy weapons from around Sarajevo. "I can't forecast for you the Bosnian Serb actions," Perry said. "The bombing campaign will cause a very heavy price to be paid if they do not comply and I think will stimulate them to comply with this."

Perry said NATO and the United Nations have no plans to end the bombing until the Serbs give in. "The campaign will go on as long as needed, and as intensely as needed to accomplish the objectives," he said.

In other news, a Bosnian Croat commander has been charged with war crimes by a U.N. tribunal. The militia leader is accused of ordering the destruction of a Muslim village where at least 16 civilians were slaughtered. He is the first non- Serb to be indicted by the tribunal.

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