Accessibility links

Yugoslavia: NATO Bombers Target Serb Army And Special Police Forces

  • Ben Partridge

London, 5 May 1999 (RFE/RL) -- A British military spokesman says NATO pilots in the past 24 hours have targeted Serbian army and special police forces deployed tactically on the ground in Kosovo.

Air Marshal John Day, speaking yesterday at a daily British Defense Ministry briefing in London, said alliance fighter planes hit Yugoslav tanks, artillery, other military vehicles, and troops. He called it a "very busy day of bombing."

In addition, more than 50 static targets were attacked throughout the whole of Yugoslavia. The targets included fuel storage facilities, bridges, army facilities, airfields, command and control centers and communication links.

Day said Royal Air Force Harrier jets flew 17 missions against Serb military and special police, dropping cluster bombs and 500 kg bombs. He said all NATO pilots returned safely to base.

British Defense Minister George Robertson told the briefing that NATO air strikes are cutting Yugoslav forces "off from resupply and reinforcement, and have already destroyed many of the structures on which these forces depend."

He said in the past few days NATO aircraft have "concentrated on pounding the forces in the field, the armor, tanks and the soldiers inside Kosovo."

French Defense Minister Alain Richard told the news conference by video link from Paris that there is "great solidarity" between the North Atlantic alliance and the EU in pursuing the air campaign against what he called "the aggressive regime" in Belgrade.

"Together in Washington [at a recent NATO summit], we [vowed] that [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic could not count on the allies being divided, and that we would remain untouched by his attempts to drive us from our clear and very simple goals, to make it possible for every inhabitant of Kosovo to live peacefully in security in their province."

Richard said the alliance is ready to stop the bombing if Milosevic meets the five demands of the international community.

These are an end to the killings in Kosovo, the withdrawal of Serb forces, the acceptance of an international military presence, the unrestricted and safe return of all refugees to their homes, and a permanent peace settlement.

French military spokesman General Xavier Delcourt said France and Britain are providing 50 percent of the European military contribution to the air campaign, and some 20 percent of overall assets.

While the air strikes are now in their sixth week, international aid agencies continue a humanitarian airlift to hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians who have been forced by Serb forces to flee to neighboring Albania and Macedonia.

Robertson says a number of non-NATO countries are contributing to this relief effort. Slovakia is providing engineers, while Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and Slovenia have sent medical personnel.