Serbia marks today the 23rd anniversary of the beginning of NATO airstrikes on the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
Military forces from 19 Western countries took part in Operation Allied Force. The bombing, which lasted 78 days, was carried out without the approval of the UN Security Council.
There are no definitive figures on the number of casualties – according to the Serbian Ministry of Defense, 1,031 soldiers and police were killed and about 2,500 civilians, including 89 children, and about 6,000 civilians and 5,173 soldiers and police were seriously or slightly wounded.
On the night of April 22-23, NATO also bombed the Serbian Radio and Television (RTS) building, killing 16 employees.
The airstrikes lasted 11 weeks, there were about 2,300 attacks in which 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.
The Yugoslav army considers the shooting down of the American F-117A fighter-bomber, the so-called “stealth bomber”, which was shot down by the Yugoslav anti-aircraft defence on March 27, 1999, in Budjanovci, one of the greatest military achievements in the defence of its territory and citizens.
The bombing ended with the signing of the Military and Technical Agreement of Kumanovo on June 9, 1999, which was followed by the withdrawal of the Yugoslav army and police forces from Kosovo, on whose territory the United Nations Civil Mission (UNMIK) was established.
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