15 years ago: NATO intervention against Serbia


Serbia marks the 15th anniversary since NATO launched an air war to stop the crackdown on independence-seeking Kosovo by the regime of strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
The 11-week operation was the Atlantic alliance’s first-ever major air campaign in Europe and still remains etched deep in Serbia’s public memory despite recent efforts by the government to move on, skynews.com.au informs.
On March 24 1999, NATO launched the attack – without UN Security Council backing – after Milosevic spurned a call to end repression by Serbian forces on ethnic Albanian guerrillas fighting for the independence of Kosovo.
For 78-days NATO aircraft bombed Serbian military and civilian targets throughout the country, including Kosovo and capital Belgrade, severely damaging infrastructure and killing at least hundreds.
The civilian death toll has never been officially established and figures vary from 2,500 claimed by Serbian officials to 500 in a Human Rights Watch estimate.
The bombing ended on June 10 when Serbia agreed to withdraw its troops from the breakaway province. Kosovo was placed under UN administration, with NATO-led peacekeepers brought in to provide security.
In 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia and has so far been recognised by more than 100 countries, including the United States and most of the European Union’s 28 member states.

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