NATO denies causing 'widespread' civilian damage
Bombing 'momentum building'
April 8, 1999
BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- NATO said Thursday that the effectiveness of its stepped up bombing campaign against Serb military targets in Yugoslavia was increasing, but denied that its missiles were responsible for "widespread" civilian damage.
NATO sent more than 100 planes on bombing missions in the early hours of Thursday, hitting dozens of targets, including an ammunition production facility and Serb armored vehicles, said Air Commodore David Wilby of Britain, NATO's military spokesman.
"Momentum (of the NATO bombing) is building with encouraging pace" and Serb forces are showing increasingly "defensive" postures, Wilby told a news conference at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels.
"I can absolutely assure you that while NATO has attacked military targets around Pristina ... NATO has certainly not caused the reported widespread damage which we believe has been orchestrated by Serbian forces," Wilby added.
"I'm sure that closer investigation will reveal the truth," he said.
CNN's Brent Sadler was taken to Pristina, the provincial capital of Kosovo, by Serb authorities and reported damage to a postal and telecommunications building and other civilian areas. The authorities said 10 civilians died in NATO attacks.
Yugoslav media also said residential areas were hit when missiles landed on Cuprija, in the south of the country.
Sadler reported that the Serbian state media on Thursday announced the end of the Yugoslav armed forces' "anti-terrorist" campaign and the restoration of peace in Kosovo.
However, there was no independent confirmation as to whether the weapons fell silent in the Serb province.
About an hour before the Serbian broadcast, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told CNN Thursday that Serb attacks on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo were continuing, despite the Yugoslav government's unilaterally declared cease-fire on Tuesday. He said NATO airstrikes would continue with determination.
But Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Thursday that unless the military action in Yugoslavia ends within the next few days, "it will be a threat to the whole of Europe."
Meanwhile, Cypriot envoy Spyros Kyprianou, flew to the Yugoslav capital Belgrade Thursday in an attempt to mediate the release of three U.S. soldiers held captive by the Yugoslav authorities.
NATO announced Thursday that it will deploy about 8,000 troops from 14 nations to Albania as part of a new operation to help the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Kosovo.
Operation Allied Harbor will provide "international support for the humanitarian effort in Albania," said Jamie Shea, NATO's civilian spokesman.
A mobile headquarters will be set up to coordinate the operation, Shea said.
Twenty-four U.S. Apache helicopters remained in Germany Thursday, ready for deployment to Albania for use in Kosovo.
NATO's top commander, Gen. Wesley Clark, will determine when to call the Apaches into combat, said U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen.
The Pentagon said that NATO commanders may opt to use as many as 48 Apache helicopters in the Kosovo campaign, The helicopters are often referred to as "tank killers".
The Pentagon said Thursday that a slow-flying unmanned drone aircraft had been lost over Yugoslavia.
NATO strikes target Serb ground forces, complicate GI release efforts
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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