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World - Europe

Captured U.S. soldiers to be released Sunday


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The Kosovo refugees

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Strike on Yugoslavia

May 1, 1999
Web posted at: 6:17 p.m. EDT (2217 GMT)

In this story:

NATO says bombing will continue

Soldiers' families await return

Milosevic wants to meet with Clinton

U.S. embargo to cut off Serbia's oil

Yugoslavs say missile hits bus, kills dozens


BELGRADE (CNN) -- Three U.S. soldiers in custody in Yugoslavia will be released Sunday morning as a "gesture of good will," according to Yugoslavia's foreign ministry.

The three soldiers will be released to the custody of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who headed a religious delegation to Belgrade in an attempt to secure their release, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nebojsa Vujovic told CNN.

"We did not consider three American soldiers as enemies, rather as the victims of war and militarism," said Vujovic, whose government said Friday it would not release the men.

Yugoslavia plans to release the soldiers around 8 a.m. (2 a.m. EST). They could accompany Jackson and the group of clergy in a car caravan to Croatia, but the details remain unclear.

Jackson, talking to reporters in Belgrade Saturday, said, "This is a material breakthrough. It's a gesture that should not go ignored."

He urged NATO to respond to the good will gesture by temporarily halting its air assault against Yugoslavia.

NATO says bombing will continue

The day after NATO conducted its largest round of airstrikes since the conflict began, alliance officials said the bombing of Yugoslavia will continue. Hours after the announcement of the planned prisoner release, air raid sirens again sounded in Belgrade.

NATO officials maintain that Belgrade must accept NATO conditions before the 19-member organization ceases its air campaign.

Friday, NATO rejected a seven-point peace plan that Yugoslavia submitted to Russia, a longtime ally of Serbia. Russia has sought to end the crisis through diplomatic proposals.

Soldiers' families await return

Staff Sgt. Andrew Ramirez, 24, of Los Angeles; Staff Sgt. Christopher Stone, 25, of Smiths Creek, Michigan; and Spc. Steven Gonzales, 22, of Huntsville, Texas were taken into custody in late March along the Yugoslav-Macedonian border.

In suburban Detroit, Jim McCrone, a spokesman for the family of Christopher Stone, said the family was "very excited" about the pending release and was "watching closely all the reports."

In Los Angeles, Nadine Ramirez, the sister of Andrew Ramirez said "I have mixed emotions ... until I get an official word. You can imagine how happy I will be," she said.

Added Gonzales' mother, Rosie Gonzales, "It's still shocking to actually hear that that will happen. We are just overwhelmed emotionally right at the moment."

Milosevic wants to meet with Clinton


When Jackson returns to the United States, he is expected to bring a letter from Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to President Clinton, outlining Milosevic's views on ending the conflict.

Jackson said the letter will express Milosevic's desire to meet with President Clinton in an effort to resolve the crisis.

The Clinton administration, which had not sanctioned the trip headed by Jackson, has not commented on the prisoner release.

U.S. embargo to cut off Serbia's oil

Before news of the soldiers' release, a White House official Saturday said Clinton ordered a U.S. trade embargo against Serbia.

The order represents a unilateral move to cut off oil and other supplies to Yugoslavia, National Security Council spokesman David Leavy said.

"As we continue to intensify the air campaign, this is another step in tightening the noose around Milosevic's war machine," he said.

Taking advantage of good weather, NATO flew more than 600 sorties Friday night and Saturday morning, hitting between 70 and 82 targets, alliance officials said.

A number of key bridges, radio transmission towers and control buildings, petroleum plants and other targets were hit, said NATO spokesman Peter Daniel.

Yugoslavs say missile hits bus, kills dozens

bus debris on bridge
The Pentagon says the bridge was not on its list of targets  

Meanwhile, Yugoslavia's state-run media and witnesses reported that a NATO missile struck a civilian bus Saturday on a bridge north of Kosovo's capital Pristina, killing at least 34 people.

The Tanjug news agency said the missile struck about 1 p.m. (1100 GMT), cutting the vehicle in two and sending part of it plunging off the bridge. About an hour later, the bridge came under attack again and an emergency services doctor was injured, the agency said.

The Pentagon said Saturday that the bridge was not on its target list, and NATO said it had no information on the matter. CNN could not independently confirm the Yugoslavian report.

NATO began the airstrikes March 24 to compel the Serbian- dominated Yugoslav federation to accept an internationally brokered peace accord. The NATO-sanctioned plan is meant to resolve civil conflict in the Serbian province of Kosovo between separatist ethnic Albanians and Serbian forces.

Correspondents Walter Rodgers and Chris Black contributed to this report.

NATO rejects Yugoslav peace offer
April 30, 1999
More refugees pour into Albania, Macedonia
April 30, 1999

April 30, 1999
U.S. POWs send video messages home
April 30, 1999
U.S. rejects Yugo position on peacekeepers
April 30, 1999
Pentagon: Yugoslav army morale falls along with fuel supply
April 30, 1999

April 30, 1999

Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
  • Kosovo

  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • 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

  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • 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
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • 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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