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Yugoslavia: NATO Says 50 Targets Hit, Strikes Successful

Prague, 26 March 1999 (RFE/RL) - NATO says its air bombardment has struck more than 50 military targets in the first two days of attacks against Yugoslavia. Officials at NATO headquarters in Brussels said a total of 400 sorties had been flown since the operation began Wednesday and that all aircraft had returned safely to base. The officials said damage assessments were still being assembled. They showed aerial photos of a number of severely damaged targets. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said an end to the air strikes was not in sight. He said the NATO allies were determined to continue the operation for as long as it takes to achieve the alliance's objectives. The spokesman also said fighting continues in the south and northwest of Kosovo. He said there was evidence of a buildup of armored Yugoslav units in the northern border area of Kosovo.

A U.S. warship today fired a Tomahawk missile in the first attack in daylight since the airstrikes began. Air raid warning sirens sounded in Belgrade in the first alert during the day.

Earlier today, NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark said the alliance was preparing for bombardments of Yugoslav ground forces. So far NATO air strikes have only targeted military facilities. Russia today ordered NATO's representative in Moscow to leave the country because of the alliance's air raids in Yugoslavia.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Russia no longer has any contact with NATO leadership, including Secretary-General Javier Solana. NATO's representative was not immediately available for comment.

President Boris Yeltsin, senior ministers and intelligence chiefs met earlier today to discuss Russia's response to the latest developments on Kosovo. Ivanov said Russian leaders agreed to offer humanitarian aid to Yugoslavia.

Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov met with parliamentary leaders to spell out to them the position of the Russian leadership. The lower house of parliament -- which has broadly backed Yeltsin and Primakov in the crisis -- plans an emergency session tomorrow on Kosovo. Primakov also asked the Duma to postpone impeachment proceedings against Yeltsin. Nikolai Kharitonov -- the leader of the Agrarian party in parliament -- quoted Primakov as saying the process would be "untimely" and would only weaken Russia's position. The Duma had scheduled an impeachment debate on April 15.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said after the meeting that all party factions in the Duma are "unanimous" in their support of the government's position on Kosovo.

Meanwhile, demonstrations against NATO bombing in Yugoslavia continued for the second day today in Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and elsewhere.

Hundreds of angry, sign-waving Muscovites jeered and yelled outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Demonstrators waved placards and shouted: "Hands off Yugoslavia" and "We will defend our Slav brothers."

Reuters reports that demonstrators in Macedonia were blocked by police from launching another attack on the U.S. embassy in Skopje today. Some 1,500 protesters attacked and damaged the embassy yesterday. Our correspondent in Skopje says the embassy has authorized non-essential staff to be evacuated and is advising U.S. citizens to consider safety precautions. She said U.S. soldiers from the closed U.N. mission in Macedonia have joined Macedonian police in protecting the embassy.

Also in Skopje today, William Walker -- the head of the OSCE monitoring mission that left Kosovo earlier this week -- said he has information showing that agents of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic planned and organized yesterday's demonstrations.

The U.S. embassy in Bosnia reported today that one staff member was severely injured in attacks on a branch office in the Bosnian Serb capital of Banja Luka.