NATO targets Yugoslav army, Serb police as Kosovo refugees flee
March 30, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Amid accusations Serb forces had accelerated an "anti-humanitarian juggernaut" against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, NATO planes Tuesday continued their attacks on military headquarters and barracks of the Yugoslav army and Serb police.
Air raid sirens blared in Belgrade Monday night, ending a relatively quiet day in the Yugoslav capital. Witnesses reported hearing explosions in a suburb to the north.
Another blast was spotted near Podgorica, the capital of the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro.
Steve Pratt of CARE Australia said two refugee centers housing ethnic Serbs were damaged in the airstrikes, killing nine people. He said field staffers reported the casualties occurred when military warehouses near the centers had been struck in the attacks. One center was in Kosovo and the other 60 kilometers southwest of Nis.
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic remained defiant in the face of continued attacks, appearing on Serbian television to salute the commander of his air defenses, Lt. Gen. Spasoje Smiljanic.
"We want to prove that people with dignity can overcome technological inferiority," Smiljanic said.
Meanwhile, a NATO official and the British Ministry of Defense late Monday refuted a Serb report of a downed Harrier jet.
The NATO official, who asked not to be named, called the report "nonsense." The official would not elaborate on Monday night's operations but said "all of the planes that are supposed to be back, are back."
Milosevic met Tuesday with Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and two other senior Russian officials, ordered to Belgrade by Russian President Boris Yeltsin to seek an end to the NATO air campaign. Earlier today, Yeltsin delivered his State of the Nation address to the Russian parliament and said that Russia is "not going to be involved in the armed conflict." He expressed optimism about Primakov's diplomatic mission to Yugoslavia.
NATO said its bombing raids against Serb military targets in Yugoslavia were now being flown around the clock. And the military alliance accused Milosevic of racing to accomplish as much ethnic cleansing in Kosovo as possible.
"He's working very, very fast, trying to present the world with a fait accompli, to change the demographics of Kosovo," said NATO Supreme Military Commander Gen. Wesley Clark on Monday.
He added that alliance airstrikes on Yugoslav forces were "a long way from being over."
Tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians have fled Kosovo since the airstrikes began, describing terrifying experiences at the hands of Serb police.
CNN correspondents in Albania, Macedonia and the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro say they have heard numerous incidents of forced expulsions, beatings and executions of ethnic Albanians by Serb units.
NATO also said Monday it had reports of recent executions of leading ethnic Albanian intellectuals.
"Reliable sources report that ... Fehmi Agani, a member of the Kosovo Albanian delegation at (recent peace talks in France) ... was executed on Sunday," Air Commodore David Wilby, a NATO military spokesman, told a news conference earlier in the day.
He said four other prominent ethnic Albanians were also reported to have been executed on Sunday.
"There are indications genocide is unfolding in Kosovo," said U.S. State Department Spokesman James Rubin.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday that the NATO air campaign should be intensified to make Milosevic pay a heavy price.
"In my view, we have to intensify it and we have to see it through. There cannot be any letup in this until we have forced him to stop carrying out these barbaric atrocities against innocent civilian people," he said.
That statement was echoed by France, where French President Jacques Chirac said in a televised statement to the nation: "We must stop the spiral of barbarity and take away from this regime the means to conduct such operations."
U.S. President Bill Clinton vowed to keep up the bombing until Yugoslavia halted its campaign of "brutality and repression."
NATO said its bombing campaign was now focusing on Serb military field forces that were directly involved in the crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Wilby said that Sunday's "major waves" of NATO attacks had been aimed at "paramilitary, military and MUP (special police) forces in Kosovo."
Under phase two of the military campaign, which is now under way, NATO warplanes are attacking Yugoslav tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons, transport vehicles and mobile command centers south of the 44th parallel, which runs through the Yugoslav town of Kragujevac, cutting the country in half.
NATO also insisted Monday that its bombing mission was working and that Milosevic was "running out of options."
NATO's assault is aimed at getting Milosevic to accept a peace plan that calls for 28,000 NATO peacekeeping troops in Kosovo -- or to degrade his armed forces' capability to the extent that the military cannot continue its crackdown on ethnic Albanians.
But Yugoslav leaders showed no sign of conceding defeat. Smiljanic said the NATO bombings had killed seven soldiers and wounded 17, but left air defenses almost untouched.
He told a news conference that his forces had downed seven NATO planes including an F-117A, three helicopters, about 30 cruise missiles and three unmanned reconnaissance aircraft.
"The losses inflicted on the enemy boosted our morale," he said.
NATO has acknowledged the crash in unclear circumstances of an F-117A stealth fighter-bomber in northern Serbia on Saturday but denies losing any other aircraft.
Pentagon: NATO making progress, but campaign will take time
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