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World - Europe

NATO: Aerial photo may show mass graves in Kosovo

mass graves
NATO says these aerial photos may indicate mass graves
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InteractiveIMAGE GALLERY:
Burning flags and rock concerts:
Protesting the NATO strikes

Devastation of Kosovo capital

The Serbs and Kosovo
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 MESSAGE BOARD
Crisis in Kosovo
 MAPS
NATO officials describe attacks from day one through day 17
 

Novi Sad bombed, Serbs say

April 11, 1999
Web posted at: 9:19 p.m. EDT (0119 GMT)


In this story:

Belgrade celebrates Orthodox Easter

Yugoslavs reject 'occupation'

KLA still fighting, NATO says

Ministers meet Monday in Brussels

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- NATO reconnaissance photos suggest that mass graves have been freshly dug in Kosovo, alliance officials said Sunday.

The aerial photographs show a patch of freshly turned earth at Orahovac, near the provincial capital of Pristina, said Col. Konrad Freytag, NATO's military spokesman.

While the photos indicate the area may have been used for mass graves, "this can only be confirmed when the area has been inspected," Freytag said.

"Based on our experience in Bosnia, where a number of mass graves were uncovered, the form looks quite similar," added NATO civilian spokesman Jamie Shea.

Belgrade ushered in Orthodox Easter on Sunday with the Yugoslav capital under air raid warnings as NATO rejected pleas to ease its bombardment during the holiday.

And Novi Sad, Yugoslavia's second largest city, was shelled Sunday evening, according to pictures shown on Serb television.

Serb TV said the shelling occurred around 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST).

A residential area of the city was seen ablaze and Tanjug, Yugoslavia's official news agency, said there were was heavy damage but no injuries.

Meanwhile, NATO officials said the ethnic Albanian rebels of the Kosovo Liberation Army are still offering pockets of resistance. And Britain announced it would send additional ships and planes into the air campaign into Yugoslavia, dispatching the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible and its escorts to the Adriatic Sea.

British military officials said the air raids -- which began March 24 -- have cut into the Yugoslav army's fuel supplies so sharply that its tanks and armored vehicles are kept parked to save gasoline.

"Over time, more and more of them will be coerced to stay static to save fuel," British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said. "If they come out of hiding, they will be hit."

Belgrade celebrates Orthodox Easter

Skies were overcast and streets were largely empty in Belgrade as the holiest day in the Christian calendar arrived. The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriach Pavle, celebrated midnight Mass with an audience of hundreds, many of whom said their faith was strengthened by the hardships of war.

Easter worship
The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle, celebrates midnight Mass  

While allied commanders rejected pleas for a truce over the Orthodox Church's Easter holiday, they did ease the pace of attacks Sunday.

"Last night, NATO had a night of relative restraint. We were mindful of the Orthodox Easter celebration," Shea said. "At the same time, the Yugoslav armed forces continued to demonstrate signs of wear and tear."

NATO pilots and cruise missiles struck fuel depots, radio communications centers and Yugoslav troops in the field, Shea said. Though the capital was quiet, Tanjug reported three dead in air raids in northern Kosovo.

The Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches and NATO member Greece had asked the 19-member military alliance to pause the bombing during Easter as a gesture of good will to Yugoslav civilians.

"We thought this was a good idea, but unfortunately it wasn't accepted," Alexander Philon, the Greek ambassador to the United States, told CNN.

Yugoslavs reject 'occupation'

NATO leaders say the bombing will stop only when the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic accepts a peace plan for Kosovo -- a province of Serbia, the Yugoslav federation's dominant republic.

village damage
Serbian TV aired images of damage that it attributed to NATO strikes  

Yugoslav officials are resisting a provision that calls for the deployment of a NATO-led force to oversee the agreement. A senior Yugoslav diplomat repeated that opposition Sunday.

Vladislav Jovanovic, Yugoslavia's charge d'affaires at the United Nations, described the provision as a "foreign occupation."

"We are a sovereign state, and we are to exercise our sovereignty on our territory. No state would accept to abdicate its sovereignty on its territory," Jovanovic said.

NATO officials say that insistence has become costly to Yugoslavia's armed forces. The alliance's military commander, U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, said if Milosevic's government continues to reject a peace agreement, "he's going to lose those forces."

"We've proven to be quite flexible and adept in the way that we've changed what was the original pattern of air activities into something that's now very focused on the battlefield," Clark told CNN.

Clark declined comment on a New York Times report that the F- 117 Nighthawk lost in the first days of the campaign was shot down by Serb anti-aircraft fire. The Times reported that Yugoslav gunners used "tactics, quick learning and luck" to bring down the radar-evading plane with a missile.

The NATO buildup continued Sunday with Britain's addition of the Invincible to the naval strike force. That move comes a day after the United States announced plans to move another 82 strike planes, transports and tankers into the region.

"It is a visible demonstration to our commitment to completing the job," Cook said Sunday.

The ship will be the third carrier in the NATO fleet, along with the U.S. Navy carrier Theodore Roosevelt and the French carrier Foch. Two other British ships, a frigate and a submarine, already are in the Adriatic.

KLA still fighting, NATO says

Shea said the Kosovar independence movement is still engaging Yugoslav forces near Pec, "which is largely a destroyed city," he said.

bombed building
Before (left) and after images of buildings hit by NATO aircraft  

"We find the KLA is far from vanquished," Shea said.

The rebels "still seem able to mount some hit-and-run, guerrilla-style attacks," Shea said, "even if they're not able to fight a full-scale land battle against tanks and artillery."

Meanwhile, fighting between the Yugoslav forces and the ethnic Albanian guerrillas threatened to spill across Kosovo's borders into Albania. The KLA buried four of their fighters Saturday, reportedly killed when they encountered a Yugoslav minefield near the frontier.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe estimated as many as 100 shells from Yugoslav artillery hit one town in Albania on Saturday.

Tanjug reported that border guards along the Albanian frontier fought off an attack by KLA guerrillas, leaving several KLA fighters dead. The reports could not be independently confirmed.

Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milosaid said Sunday his country supports NATO's bombing campaign. He criticized Milosevic for unleashing "medieval violence" and "the fascist policy of a regime that does not recognize and respect the human being."

Ministers meet Monday in Brussels

NATO's 19 foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels on Monday to assess the campaign against Yugoslavia -- a meeting that will provide a focus on NATO's own unity.

"The watchword for our meeting will be resolve," Cook said.

The meeting comes at a time when allied officials are under increasing pressure to discuss the use of a combat force on the ground in Kosovo.

U.S. and NATO officials have repeatedly said that air power alone can force Yugoslavia to end the fighting in Kosovo. But John Podesta, U.S. President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, said Sunday there is a contingency plan for using ground troops in a combat force, rather than as peacekeepers.

"NATO did do an assessment of putting ground troops in, in a nonpermissive environment, and those plans and assessments could be updated quickly if we decide to do that, need to do that," Podesta told NBC's "Meet The Press."

Cook dismissed questions Sunday about a possible NATO ground attack.

"It would take two or three months to assemble the expeditionary force that would be needed, and we do not have two or three months," he said. And once assembled, a NATO expeditionary force in Yugoslavia would likely inflict -- and suffer -- heavy losses.

"I do think those who are calling for ground troops have to be prepared to accept casualties that we are not able to accept," Cook said.

Correspondents Brent Sadler, Catherine Bond and Jim Clancy contributed to this report.


RELATED STORIES:
On Ortodox Easter, religious leaders pray for peace, goodwill
April 11, 1999
NATO adds muscle to air battle
April 10, 1999
Yeltsin warns of posslible world war over Kosovo
April 10, 1999
Refugee situation improves; U.S. says some used as shields
April 10, 1999
NATO getting more 'all-weather' fighter jets
April 9, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
  • Kosovo

Yugoslavia:
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News


Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • 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

Relief:
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Mercy International USA
  • Unicef USA
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • World Vision
  • CARE: The Kosovo Crisis
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Disaster Relief from DisasterRelief.org
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page


Media:
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

Other:
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