24 years since NATO bombing of Serbia

On March 24, 1999, NATO began the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) over Belgrade’s policy in the province of Kosovo, which sought independence.

According to unofficial sources, about 2,500 civilians and about 1,000 soldiers and police officers were killed. Infrastructure, businesses, health facilities, media houses and military facilities were severely damaged in the 78-day-long bombing.

The attacks on Yugoslavia began on the orders of the then Secretary General of NATO, Javier Solana. The Government of the FRY declared a state of war the same night.

During the airstrikes, a total of 22,000 tonnes of various missiles were fired, including more than 30,000 cluster bombs. In addition to the casualties, military facilities and infrastructure such as railways, bridges, factories, schools, hospitals and civilian radio and television transmitters were severely damaged while the Avala Tower in Belgrade was destroyed on April 29.

An estimate of the material damage caused to the destroyed and damaged structures and infrastructure has never been officially calculated but ranges from several dozen to up to 100 billion US dollars.

During the 78-day-long airstrikes, the Yugoslav army shot down the American F-117A fighter-bomber, the so-called “stealth bomber”, on March 27, 1999, in Budjanovci, which somewhat boosted the army’s and general population’s morale.

The bombing followed unsuccessful negotiations held at Rambouillet, France, on resolving the Kosovo crisis, during which Pristina accepted the conditions while Belgrade rejected them.

The bombing ended on June 10, with the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, followed by the withdrawal of the Belgrade army and police from Kosovo and the arrival of the NATO-led international military troops and the European legal mission.

On the occasion of the anniversary of the NATO bombing in 1999, the US Ambassador to Serbia, Christopher Hill, said that the people of Serbia should not forget such a terrible time, but believe that they have enough strength to suppress their indignation, stressing that America and Serbia can build a better future together.

“I dedicated my life to diplomacy – finding diplomatic solutions to seemingly intractable problems. During my diplomatic career, I learned that diplomacy sometimes fails. When that happens, the consequences can be tragic,” Hill said and expressed his sincere condolences to the families of those killed in the wars of the 1990s, including those killed in NATO bombing.

(Danas, Naslovi.net, Politika, 24.03.2023)




This post is also available in: Italiano

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