NATO reportedly hits Yugoslav air force headquarters
Buildings engulfed in flames
April 5, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- NATO cruise missiles have reportedly struck the headquarters of the Yugoslav air force, according to reports from Belgrade early Monday.
Four loud explosions were heard in quick succession near Belgrade at 4:20 a.m. local time (10:20 p.m. Sunday EDT), and witnesses reported seeing low-flying planes, as NATO's Operation Allied Force entered its 13th day.
Serbian television showed flames leaping into the night sky and said missiles had hit the offices of an air base in Belgrade's northern district of Zemun. Explosions were also reported in other areas of Yugoslavia, including Nis, 140 miles south of Belgrade.
CNN correspondent Martin Savidge, aboard the USS Gonzalez, said 25 cruise missiles were fired at Yugoslav targets.
Monday's strikes came as NATO intensified its campaign against Yugoslavia. They followed the bombing of a heating plant and a suburban oil refinery a day before.
Earlier on Monday, Serbian Television reported NATO strikes in Kosovo and in Yugoslavia's second largest city, Novi Sad, which has lost two major bridges to NATO bombs.
Local broadcaster Studio B reported that the Belgrade City Crisis Center confirmed one blast hit near Belgrade's Surcin airport, Sadler said.
Studio B also issued an emergency announcement for Belgrade residents to seek shelter as air activity was ongoing overhead.
Meanwhile, NATO was offered new weapons that will allow it to "get up close and personal" with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's armored units in Kosovo, the U.S. Pentagon announced Sunday.
U.S. Apache attack helicopters, sophisticated rocket system artillery and about 2,000 soldiers will be transported from Germany into Albania, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said.
"It gives us greater precision -- all-weather capability, day or night -- to go after the types of weapons that the Yugoslav army, the VJ, is using to not only repress the Kosovar Albanian people but to drive them from their villages and to shell and crush the villages," Bacon said.
"The question you all will have is, 'Isn't this a step toward the deployment of ground troops in Kosovo?'" Bacon said during an afternoon news conference. "The answer is, absolutely not. This is pure and simple an expansion of the air operation."
NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, Gen. Wesley Clark, requested the additional weapon systems and U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen signed the deployment orders, Bacon said.
But before the new weapons are used, NATO's policy-making council will have to give its approval and President Clinton will have to determine whether there is adequate force protection for the support troops for the helicopter and rocket launchers.
"Remember, our goal is disarmament. We don't want to fuel the fighting and the arms race in Kosovo; we want to end it," Bacon said.
He also said that bad weather has been "our primary enemy" both in getting good satellite imagery of reported atrocities in Kosovo and in attacking the forces allegedly responsible.
Bacon said that only secondary impact of the alleged atrocities -- the huge flow of refugees across the border -- has been visible.
Earlier, NATO Air Commodore David Wilby said the bad weather that has restricted airstrikes is clearing and that NATO was planning to make the best of the opportunity.
"What I would say, with a big smile on my face, is that the weather is turning, and I can assure you that we are geared up to make the absolute most of the break in the weather," he said.
AH-64a Apache Attack Helicopter (above) and ATACMS Army Tactical Missile System
Click here for more information about the Apache
Click here for more information about the ATACMS
NATO airstrikes are cutting off vital supplies to the Yugoslav army in Kosovo, allied spokesmen said earlier Sunday, while Yugoslavia reported that a civilian heating plant had been hit in the latest round of strikes, killing a security guard.
As the NATO strikes resumed at targets near Belgrade early Sunday, the Yugoslav army in Kosovo was moving westward to attack remaining guerrilla forces of the separatist KLA, said Wilby, NATO's military spokesman.
NATO strikes pounded military command centers, bridges, fuel supplies and air defense installations around Belgrade, Wilby said, with the aim of breaking supply lines to the troops in other parts of the country.
"Our air effort was concentrated around Belgrade, with attacks being conducted against major army and security forces in the city, including the headquarters of the Yugoslav First Army," Wilby said.
In London, Britain's Armed Forces Minister Doug Henderson said the bombings are beginning to take a toll on the Yugoslav army and Serbian special police, which NATO accuses of carrying out a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo.
Milosevic's "forces are increasingly isolated in the field and running short of fuel and ammunition," Henderson said.
|Targets were reportedly hit in Zemun, a northwest suburb of Belgrade on Monday|
NATO attacks on Belgrade resumed Sunday when large explosions began to rock Belgrade about 4:35 a.m. (9:35 p.m. Saturday EST). CNN correspondents saw a fireball and an orange glow which lit up the sky.
Bad weather over the region is beginning to lift, allowing NATO forces to unleash their "full weight" on Yugoslavia, British military officials said in a Sunday news conference.
Sunday's strikes destroyed what Belgrade said was the city's largest heating plant. City officials said the plant was used only to provide heat for more than 1 million people and is now completely out of commission.
The plant manager said a security guard was burned to death in the attack and three other workers were hospitalized.
"All our workers are in deep shock," plant manager Predrag Vasic said. "We cannot believe that there are those who can attack this type of facility."
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Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
Kesovo and Metohija facts
Serbia Ministry of Information
Serbia Now! News
Kosova Crisis Center
Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
Kosovo - from Albanian.com
NATO official site
BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis
CARE: The Kosovo Crisis
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Committee of the Red Cross
Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
Catholic Relief Services
ReliefWeb: Home page
Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis
Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
Prayers for Peace
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