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Serbia, Montenegro mark 15 years from start of Yugoslavia’s bombings

March 24, 2014, 12:14 UTC+3
Operation Allied Force carried out without UN Security Council’s permit lasted for 78 days
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Flames seen in Belgrade on March 24, 1999
Flames seen in Belgrade on March 24, 1999
Flames seen in Belgrade on March 24, 1999
© AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis
© AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic
Former Yugoslav Army headquarter building in Belgrade  which was partially destroyed and heavily damaged during the NATO air raids
Former Yugoslav Army headquarter building in Belgrade  which was partially destroyed and heavily damaged during the NATO air raids
Former Yugoslav Army headquarter building in Belgrade which was partially destroyed and heavily damaged during the NATO air raids
© EPA-PHOTO/EPA/STARKIN/str
Remains of passenger train hit by NATO warplanes on a bridge in the Grdelicka gorge, 300 kilometers south of Belgrade
Remains of passenger train hit by NATO warplanes on a bridge in the Grdelicka gorge, 300 kilometers south of Belgrade
Remains of passenger train hit by NATO warplanes on a bridge in the Grdelicka gorge, 300 kilometers south of Belgrade
© AP PHOTO / Milova Knezevic
Black smoke rises from a burning oil refinery in Novi Sad
Black smoke rises from a burning oil refinery in Novi Sad
Black smoke rises from a burning oil refinery in Novi Sad
© AP Photo /Jaroslav Pap
A cloud of smoke rises over Uzice, some 200 km south-west of Belgrade, after NATO hit a telecommunication antenna
A cloud of smoke rises over Uzice, some 200 km south-west of Belgrade, after NATO hit a telecommunication antenna
A cloud of smoke rises over Uzice, some 200 km south-west of Belgrade, after NATO hit a telecommunication antenna
© EPA/MZWELE
Burning hangar of the aeronautical factory "UTVA" in Pancevo, Serbia
Burning hangar of the aeronautical factory "UTVA" in Pancevo, Serbia
Burning hangar of the aeronautical factory "UTVA" in Pancevo, Serbia
© EPA PHOTO EPA/-/ss/kr
Building of former Serbian police station which was destroyed during NATO air strikes in 1999 in Kosovo's capital Pristina
Building of former Serbian police station which was destroyed during NATO air strikes in 1999 in Kosovo's capital Pristina
Building of former Serbian police station which was destroyed during NATO air strikes in 1999 in Kosovo's capital Pristina
© EPA/VALDRIN XHEMAJ
Nis airfield
Nis airfield
Nis airfield
© AP PHOTO/HO/NATO
 Defusing forces use a crane to lift a unexploded bomb weighing 1,000 kg on a vehicle at the Nis airport in 2003
 Defusing forces use a crane to lift a unexploded bomb weighing 1,000 kg on a vehicle at the Nis airport in 2003
Defusing forces use a crane to lift a unexploded bomb weighing 1,000 kg on a vehicle at the Nis airport in 2003
©  EPA PHOTO EPA/SASA DJORDJEVIC
A NATO warplane takes off from the northern Italian NATO air base Aviano  to hit targets in Serbia, Montenegro
A NATO warplane takes off from the northern Italian NATO air base Aviano  to hit targets in Serbia, Montenegro
A NATO warplane takes off from the northern Italian NATO air base Aviano to hit targets in Serbia, Montenegro
©  EPA/STRINGER
NATO Puma helicopters stand on the tarmac of Rinas military airport, near Tirana, Albania
NATO Puma helicopters stand on the tarmac of Rinas military airport, near Tirana, Albania
NATO Puma helicopters stand on the tarmac of Rinas military airport, near Tirana, Albania
© EPA PHOTO ANSA/Filippo MONTEFORTE/TO-fob
A Tomahawk missile is launched from the deck of the USS Gonzalez warship
A Tomahawk missile is launched from the deck of the USS Gonzalez warship
A Tomahawk missile is launched from the deck of the USS Gonzalez warship
© AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
© AP Photo
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Flames seen in Belgrade on March 24, 1999
© AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis
© AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic
Former Yugoslav Army headquarter building in Belgrade which was partially destroyed and heavily damaged during the NATO air raids
© EPA-PHOTO/EPA/STARKIN/str
Remains of passenger train hit by NATO warplanes on a bridge in the Grdelicka gorge, 300 kilometers south of Belgrade
© AP PHOTO / Milova Knezevic
Black smoke rises from a burning oil refinery in Novi Sad
© AP Photo /Jaroslav Pap
A cloud of smoke rises over Uzice, some 200 km south-west of Belgrade, after NATO hit a telecommunication antenna
© EPA/MZWELE
Burning hangar of the aeronautical factory "UTVA" in Pancevo, Serbia
© EPA PHOTO EPA/-/ss/kr
Building of former Serbian police station which was destroyed during NATO air strikes in 1999 in Kosovo's capital Pristina
© EPA/VALDRIN XHEMAJ
Nis airfield
© AP PHOTO/HO/NATO
Defusing forces use a crane to lift a unexploded bomb weighing 1,000 kg on a vehicle at the Nis airport in 2003
©  EPA PHOTO EPA/SASA DJORDJEVIC
A NATO warplane takes off from the northern Italian NATO air base Aviano to hit targets in Serbia, Montenegro
©  EPA/STRINGER
NATO Puma helicopters stand on the tarmac of Rinas military airport, near Tirana, Albania
© EPA PHOTO ANSA/Filippo MONTEFORTE/TO-fob
A Tomahawk missile is launched from the deck of the USS Gonzalez warship
© AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
© AP Photo

BELGRADE, March 24. /ITAR-TASS/. A tragic date is marked on Monday in Serbia and in Montenegro: it’s 15 years since NATO started bombing the territory of these states, which then formed part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Operation Allied Force, which NATO carried out without the approval of UN Security Council, lasted for 78 days. Objects on the whole territory of Serbia and Montenegro became targets of NATO bomber aircraft and cruise missiles. The pretext for starting the aggression involving 19 NATO members led by the USA was the failure of talks on Kosovo in Rambouillet, France, and Serbia’s denial to sign the “peace plan”. One of the plan’s paragraphs stipulated the deployment of foreign troops in Kosovo, which practically meant the military occupation of the region.


What became the pretext of the attack

The formal pretext for the attack was the discovery in Kosovan village of Racak of a mass grave with bodies of Albanian civilians allegedly shot by Serbian servicemen. Later it turned out that this was a falsification staged with the assistance of western intelligence services. The major part of the casualties was militants of Kosovo Liberation Army killed in different areas of the region in clashes with Yugoslavian law enforcers.

In the course of NATO attacks, defense facilities of Serbian Air Force, Air Defense units and military industrial facilities were gradually destroyed along with civil infrastructure facilities — bridges, factories, transport hubs, power plants and power transmission lines.

 

Statistics

In the course of 11 weeks of NATO Air Force’s operation, a total of 2,300 air attacks on 995 objects were carried out. 1,150 combat airplanes were used in the operation. 420,000 explosive items were thrown, including 20,000 heavy air bombs, 1,300 cruise missiles, 37,000 cluster bombs, many of which were filled with depleted uranium. Over 2,000 civilians became victims of the bombings (mainly on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija), as well as 1,000 servicemen; over 5,000 people were wounded and over a thousand people were reported missing.

The military industrial infrastructure of Serbia was in fact completely destroyed; over 1,500 settlements were dragged down, as well as 60 bridges, 30% of schools, and about 100 monuments. According to Serbian experts, material losses after the bombings depending on the calculation methods totaled $60-100 billion.

The bombings stopped June 9, 1999, when representatives of Yugoslavian army and NATO in Macedonian city of Kumanovo signed a military technical agreement on the withdrawal of troops and police units of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from Kosovo and on deployment of international troops on Kosovo’s territory. A day later, UN Security Council adopted the corresponding resolution number 1244. According to it, 37,200 servicemen of Kosovo Force (KFOR) from 36 countries were deployed on the territory of the southern Serbian province. As a result of the NATO military expansion against Yugoslavia, Kosovo declared its independence in Pristina on February 17, 2008.

 

Aftermath

Indirect consequences of the NATO attack can be noted on people’s health. The radiation level in several localities in southern Serbia (mainly in Kosovo and Metohija), which were hit by depleted uranium in 1999 (112 areas in total, according to Serbian Army’s General Staff), still exceeds critical standards. Scientists link the cancer incidence rate in the country with NATO bombings. This year, some 40,000 new cases of cancer are forecasted in Serbia, the total population of which amounts to 7.2 million people. This grim forecast was made by Slobodan Cekaric, the head of the Serbian Society against Cancer.

He said that a 15-year-long latent period in the development of cancer diseases is ending in 2014. After that, the signs of illnesses caused by the impact of radioactive materials will start coming to surface. The bombs dropped on the territory of Serbia contained depleted uranium which causes cancer, respiratory and allergic diseases, neurological disorders, reproductive problems and impaired development of children.

A report published by the Doctor Milan Jovanovic Batut National Institute of Public Health in 2007 warned about “a quiet epidemic of malignant diseases” in Serbia. Thus, men’s morbidity with prostate cancer increased by 60% from 1999 to 2005. Other cancer-induced diseases are also on the rise both among men and women. Cancer is one of the main causes of death around the globe, claiming about 8 million human lives annually. However, malignant diseases in Serbia grow at a higher rate than in Western Europe, increasing from year to year, Serbian doctors say.

The situation is particularly alarming in southern Serbia which was worst hit by NATO bombs. According to Radomir Kovacevic, the head of the radiological protection department of the Doctor Dragomir Karajovic Institute, people who live in the uranium-polluted areas, run the risk of falling ill with lymph cancer, leukemia, breast and lung cancer.

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