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Operation Storm

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This article is about a 1995 Croatian army operation. For a Polish Second World War partisan operation, see Operation Tempest.
Operation Storm Part of the Croatian War of Independence
Bosnian War
Map of Operation Storm Date August 4August 7, 1995Location CroatiaResult Total Croatianvictory
Decisive Bosnianvictory
End of Serb Republic of Krajina
End of Republic of Western Bosnia
End of Croatian War of Independence
Belligerents  Croatia (HV)
 Bosnia and Herzegovina (ABiH)  Republic of Serbian Krajina (VSK)
 Republika Srpska (VRS) Commanders Zvonimir Červenko (HV)
Atif Dudakovic (ABiH) Mile Mrkšić (VSK) Strength 175,000 soldiers,
365 tanks,
500 artillery pieces,
50 rocket launchers,
50 aircraft and helicopters 40,000 soldiers,
150 tanks,
350 artillery pieces,
20 rocket launchers,
10 helicopters Casualties and losses 174 soldiers killed,
1,430 wounded (1) 700 soldiers and 677 civilians killed, 5,000 POW, 90,000 refugees (Croatian sources)
(2) 742 soldiers killed,
at least 1,196 civilians killed (Serbian sources)
250,000 refugees   Croatian War of IndependencePlitvice Lakes – Borovo Selo – Dalmatia – Vukovar (Battle, Massacre) – The Barracks – Dubrovnik – Lovas – Široka Kula – Gospić – Saborsko – Baćin – Otkos 10 – Škabrnja – Orkan 91 – Voćin – Miljevci – Maslenica – Medak Pocket – Flash – Zagreb – Summer '95 – Storm v • d • eWar in Bosnia

and Herzegovina

Siege of Sarajevo –

Foča massacres  – Višegrad – Prijedor  – Lašva Valley ethnic cleansing – Ahmići – Neretva '93 – Banja Luka – 1st Markale – Bøllebank – Amanda – Tuzla – Mrkonjić Grad – Srebrenica massacre – Summer '95 – Tiger – Storm – 2nd Markale – NATO bombing – Mistral – Sana


Operation Storm (Croatian and Serbian Latin: Operacija Oluja, Serbian Cyrillic: Oпeрaциja Oлуja) was the code name given to a large-scale military operation carried out by Croatian Armed Forces, in conjunction with the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to retake the Krajina region, which had been controlled by separatist Serbs since early 1991. [1].For continuation of this military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina see Operation Mistral.

The operation, which took 36 hours, was described as the largest European land offensive since World War II,[2] It began shortly before dawn on August 4, 1995 and ended in decisive victory for the Croatian forces four days later.

These forces had been trained by a U.S.-based firm, Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), which provides both training and senior staff services.[3] Its engagement was approved by the U.S. government.[4]

Former President Bill Clinton wrote in his memoirs that he believed the Serbs could only be brought to the negotiating table if they sustained major losses on the ground.[5] The negotiations produced the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the war in the Balkans.

Former US peace negotiator Richard Holbrooke said "he realised how much the Croatian offensive in the Krajina profoundly changed the nature of the Balkan game and thus this diplomatic offensive."..[6] Retired four-star General Wesley Clark, Director, Strategic Plans and Policy (J5) for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and later Supreme Allied Commander Europe simply called it a turning point.[citation needed]

After the Srebrenica Genocide, there were concerns over the reoccurance of the massacre in the Bihac pocket area, where the population of Bosniaks was four times larger then in Srebrenica and which was surrounded by Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb forces.

Approximately 150,000 to 200,000[7] Serbs fled approaching Croat forces to Serb-held parts of Bosnia and Serbia. The European Union Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia Carl Bildt called it on Aug. 7, 1995, "the most efficient ethnic cleansing we've seen in the Balkans."[8] The Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Bildt's assessment was "unfounded."[9] German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel released a statement expressing "regret" about the offensive but added, "We can't forget that the years of Serb aggression ... have sorely tried Croatia's patience."[10] The United States government called for "restraint," but said the military operation had been "provoked initially by a Krajina Serb attack on the Muslim enclave of Bihać."[11]

Three Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina, Ivan Čermak and Mladen Markač, alleged to have been involved in the planning and execution of Operation Storm, were indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and are on trial in the Hague on charges of operating a joint criminal enterprise for the purpose of permanently removing the Serb population from the Krajina by force and of crimes against humanity [12]

The Croatian government maintained the operation was justified on the grounds that a sovereign state has the right to be in control of its own territory. The government also insisted that Croatian Serbs not involved in "war crimes" would be able to return to the area.[13]

In Croatia, August 5 is celebrated as a national holiday, Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, while in Serbia it is marked by commemorations for those who were killed and exiled. [1]



Main article: Croatian War of Independence

The 1990 revolt of the Croatian Serbs was centered on the predominantly Serb-populated Krajina region and eastern Croatia where Croats were in a relative majority.[14][15]

The Serbs declared their illegal separation from Croatia by proclaiming a Republic of Serbian Krajina, which remained internationally unrecognized, and initiated an armed conflict, supported by the Yugoslav People's Army, against Croatian police and civilians. A campaign of ethnic cleansing was then started by Serb forces against Croatian civilians in the areas under their control and most non-Serbs were expelled by early 1993. Few Croats remained in the Krajina region after the January 1993 Croatian offensives. As of November 1993, less than 400 ethnic Croats still resided in UNPA Sector South [16] , and between 1,500 and 2,000 remained in UNPA Sector North.[17]

In January 1992, a ceasefire agreement was signed by Presidents Franjo Tuđman of Croatia and Slobodan Milošević of Serbia to suspend fighting between the two sides. During the next three years, Croatian military operations in the Krajina were mostly limited to small attacks while Serbs military operations concentrated on shelling nearby Croatian towns[18] of which the most internationally notable was the Zagreb rocket attack during May, 1995[19][20]. One notable Croatian military operation druing this time was Operation Medak Pocket of September 1993, during which Croatian forces overran a small area in the mountainous region of Lika but caused an international incident in the process when Croatian forces allegedly committed war crimes against local Serb civilians.

The HV (Hrvatska vojska) played a more active role in western Bosnia, acting in concert with the Bosnian Croat HVO to combat Bosnian Serb forces. This had several advantages for the Croatians: it helped to prop up the Bosnian Croat statelet, it gave Croatian army commanders valuable combat experience and it put the Croatians in a good strategic position to threaten the Croatian Serbs' supply lines in Bosnia.


Build-up to Operation Storm

Map of the territorial division of the Srpske vojske Krajine (SVK), 1995. Map of Operation Storm

After Operation Flash in May 1995 Serbian president Slobodan Milošević has made decision to help Krajina with material, general Milan Mrkšić from Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and people of military age which are born in then Krajina [21]A proposed peace plan, called Z-4 plan which would give Serbs autonomy inside Croatia, which was not accepted.[22] [23]

Serbs in Krajina

Although a military action was expected Milan Martić, the Krajina Serbian leader, and his staff refused the Z-4 plan in hopes of uniting with the Bosnian Serbs(lead by Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić) and Serbia.[24]

After Croatian victory in Operation Summer '95 during July of that year the Serbs in Krajina were in logistical problems because must important road which has connected capitals of Croatian and Bosnian Serbs has been taken. Morale and efficiency were low, and many of the Serb troops were poorly trained. They were also seriously undermined by internal political conflicts [25]

Serbs in Croatia

The Croatian Serb army, the VSK, was also significantly undermanned. Their front extended 600 km, and their area of control extended 100 km to the rear, along the Bihać pocket in Bosnia. To cover this front and defend the rear, it had 55,000 soldiers.

16,000 of the VSK's troops were stationed in eastern Slavonia, leaving only a theoretical maximum 39,000 to defend the main part of the RSK.

Forces opposed to Serbs

In contrast, the Croatian and Bosnian armies (the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina) had greatly strengthened their forces. They had re-equipped with modern weaponry — despite the arms embargoes in force — and had obtained military training with the support of the United States.

They also had strategic advantages, with much shorter lines of communication than their enemies. These advantages were demonstrated in Western Slavonia in May 1995, when the Croatian Army rapidly overran a Serb-held area in Operation Flash. Serb forces retaliated by attacking the capital Zagreb with Orkan missiles from the Krajina; killing 7 and wounding over 150 civilians.

Operations in July-August 1995

In July 1995, the Croatian and Bosnian armies jointly captured the crucial western Bosnian towns of Glamoč, and Bosansko Grahovo, along with Livno's western villages. This cut vital Croatian Serb supply lines and effectively meant that the Croatian Serb capital of Knin was surrounded on three sides. The Krajina Serbs joined the Bosnian Serbs (aided by Fikret Abdić's Bosniak rebels) in an offensive aimed at eliminating the Bihać pocket which was surrounded since 1992 and holding over 40,000 Bosnian refugees. International community feared a repeat of a Srebrenica massacre there.

During the last week of July and the first few days of August 1995, the Croatian Army undertook a massive military build-up along the front lines in the Krajina and western Slavonia.

Effect of NATO Actions

Another important and perhaps not as widely recognized issue was the role of NATO in the operation.[clarify] Prior to the Operation, they were actively involved in tracking General Gotovina's movements and that of his army. NATO forces assisted in clearing Serb blockades and with logistical and communications issues. This occurred as a result of their wish to push the Serbs to the negotiating table, in Dayton, Ohio. See a discussion of NATO and United States operational problems.


Before the beginning of the operation, both sides were present at peace talks in Switzerland on August 3rd, 1995. Croatia's stance was for the Serbs to agree to reintegration into Croatia, which they refused, even though military action was expected.

In a special proclamation, the president of Croatia, Franjo Tuđman called for the Serb population which had not taken part in the war to remain in their homes and that their rights would be respected.[2][3] Croatian Army representatives also declared that they would leave corridors open for civilians wishing to flee to Bosnia. Throughout the Operation, the Army held regular news conferences, displaying maps of operations on the ground.

August 4, 1995

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At 0500 on August 4, around 150,000 Croatian Army troops attacked at along a 300 km front.The Croatian 4th and 7th Guards Brigades broke through the lines of the Serb forces and advanced deep toward capital. Much of the Krajina Serb leadership had already left for Serbia and Bosnia.

Main attacks

The main part of the operation was conducted by Croatian Guard Brigades which has attacked at many different points which would effectively split the RSK in few separate areas. For the opening phase of the operation, other units simply held the front, but would later surround and force surrender of remaining pockets of resistance.

In the main operation, the First Croatian Guard Brigade attacked toward Saborsko and Plitvice Lakes, with its objective being a linkup with Bosnia and Herzegovina troops attacked Krajina from the Bihać pocket. Simultaneously, the Second Croatian Guard Brigade attacked with a primary objective of capturing Glina and Petrinja, followed with a linkup with troops in the Žirovac area. During first day of fighting around Petrinja has Croatian forces has been defeated and commander of Second Croatian Guard Brigade has been sacked and changed with Petar Stipetić.

The Fourth and Seventh Croatian Guard Brigades attacked from Bosnia and Herzegovina territory toward the capital Knin of Krajina. The bulk of theNinth Croatian Guard Brigade attacked toward Ljubovo and Udbina, but a smaller part attacked from Velebit mountain toward Sveti Rok (taken on August 4) and Gračac.

During the first day of fighting, a significant event was cutting the road Knin-Slunj, which blocked the 21 Kordun Corps from supporting Krajina forces in Lika or Knin. Initially, resistance was strong - especially in the Kordun, Petrinja and Lika regions - but following the first day, resistance collapsed and the bulk of the RSK army retreated.

August 4th order by the RSK Supreme Defence Council ordering evacuation of civilians from towns along the front line in the Knin area.

Decision to evacuate civilians from towns along the front line in the Knin area

The Krajina Serb Supreme Defence Council met under president Milan Martić to discuss the situation. A decision was reached at 16:45 to "start evacuating the population unfit for military service from from the municipalities of Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac, Drniš and Gračac." These towns were along the front line in the southern tip of the RSK. The order futher stated the evacuation was "to be carried out according to the plan towards direction of Knin and furthermore via Otrić, and towards Srb and Lapac", towns in the interior of the RSK near the Una River which marks the boundary with Bosnia-Herzegovina. [26]

Suppression of air defense by NATO

On the same day, "Two U. S. Navy EA-6Bs and two U. S. Navy F/A-18Cs", patrolling Croatian and Bosnian airspace as part of Operation Deny Flight to enforce no-fly zones, attacked two Serb surface-to-air missile radar sites near Knin and Udbina. The attack, using AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles, were "in self-defence after the aircraft electronic warning devices indicated they were being targeted by anti-aircraft missiles." [27]

August 5, 1995

On August 5th, Knin and most of the Dalmatian hinterland were captured by Croatian forces, with only sporadic resistance encountered from the VSK.

The 5th Corps of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina started a counteroffensive, attacking the VSK from the rear and crossing the border in multiple places from north-western Bosnia and linking up with the Croatian Army near the Plitvice Lakes, well inside Croatia.

Large refugee columns formed in many parts of Croatian Serb territory, so virtually the entire Serb population fled into Bosnia along the evacuation corridors established by the Croatian military under a cease-fire agreement brokered by the United Nations which are knowing even then that they will be accused of contributing to ethnic cleansing[28]

August 6, 1995

On August 6, the Croatian 1st Guards Brigade and allied units of the Bosnian Army's 5th Corps continued to advance into Krajina Serb territory near Slunj (north of Plitvice) and reached the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The towns of Petrinja, Kostajnica, Obrovac, Korenica, Slunj, Bruvno, Vrhovine, Plaški, Cetingrad, Plitvice and Glina were all captured during the course of the day. Strong resistance was only encountered in the town of Glina (south of Sisak). The Croatian-held town of Karlovac was subjected to retaliatory shelling by the VSK, and Bosnian Serb aircraft attacked a chemical plant in the town of Kutina. President Tuđman staged a triumphal entry into Knin, where the Croatian flag was raised above the fortress that dominates the old town.

August 7, 1995

Fighting continued on August 7 but at a much lower intensity than on the previous days. Two Serb aircraft were shot down near Daruvar and Pakrac, and the towns of Turanj and Dvor na Uni were captured. Croatian and Bosnian army units linked up at Zirovać, to the east of the Bihać pocket. The Bosnian town of Velika Kladuša, which had been the "capital" of the self-proclaimed breakaway Republic of Western Bosnia (Bosniak forces of Fikret Abdić), was captured by Bosnian forces. In the evening, Croatian Defence Minister Gojko Šušak declared the end to major combat operations, as most of the border with Bosnia was controlled by the Croatian Army and only mopping-up actions remained to be completed.[citation needed]

August 8, 1995 onwards

The last mopping-up actions took place on August 8 with the unopposed capture of Gornji Lapac, Donji Lapac and Vojnić. On August 9, the surrounded VSK's 21st Corps (Kordun) surrendered en masse to the Croatian Army near Vojnić [4] [5].

By this time, virtually the entire Serb population of the Krajina was on the move, crossing into Serb-controlled territory in Bosnia. The exodus was complicated by the presence of armed Krajina Serb soldiers among the civilian refugees. A large refugee column that was moving on the Glina-Dvor road during August 1995 suffered casualties on two occasions: one report mentions Croatian army shelling of the column, and another mentions tanks of the Serbian 2nd Tank Brigade making their way through the road without regard to civilians.

The Croatian government claimed that around 90,000 Serb civilians had fled:

Upon instructions from my Government I have the honour to address you concerning a letter circulated as a document of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities

– E/CN.4/Sub.2/1995/45, dated 11 August 1995[29]

Serbian sources claimed that there were as many as 250,000 refugees. The United Nations put the figure at 150,000-200,000. The BBC reports the number to be 200,000 ([6] and [7])

On August 21, Croatian Army reported that 174 Croatian soldiers had been killed in the offensive, 15 missing and 1,430 wounded while Serbian loses were 560 soldiers killed.

Although after Operation Flash it has become clear that the Krajina army was known to be less capable than the Croatian Army, its lack of serious resistance has been surprise. The Croatian Army had reportedly expected at least a week's fighting. However, other than the fighting around Glina, the Krajina Serb military response proved little more than symbolic in most places. The VSK largely collapsed, many of its soldiers deserting and joining the civilian exodus and others carrying their weapons into Bosnia. Around 5,000 were said to have surrendered and handed in their weapons to Croatian and UN forces.

Operation Storm did not target the Serb-inhabited area of Eastern Slavonia, along the border with Serbia, which was the easternmost end of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina (though geographically disconnected from the other Serb-held areas of Croatia). Although there were fears of a direct military confrontation between Croatia and Serbia in Eastern Slavonia, large-scale armed conflict was not resumed in that region.


Military and political

In the days immediately following Operation Storm, Croatian Army and Ministry of the Interior (MUP) units conducted a series of follow-up operations in the Krajina region. The majority of the Croatian Army forces withdrew from the area in August 1995. After the operation, joint Croatian and Bosnian forces would continue the offensive in western Bosnia, advancing towards Bosnian Serb capital Banja Luka.

Operation Storm lifted the siege of Bihać. Bosnian general Atif Dudaković (commander of the Bihać 5th Corps) said that Operation Storm was an answer to the Split agreement signed by presidents Tudjman and Izetbegovic that pledged aid to the besieged pocket.[30]

Neither Serbian President Slobodan Milošević nor the Serb-dominated Yugoslav Army came to the aid of the Krajina Serbs during the offensive. Although Milošević condemned the Croatian military assault, the Serbian government-controlled press also attacked the Krajina Serb leaders, claiming they were unfit to hold office.[31]

Operation Storm was seen as a total reversal of the military balance of power in the region. Along with NATO's bombing campaign in Bosnia (Operation Deliberate Force), Operation Storm and its follow-up offensives in western Bosnia were seen as vital contributing factors to peace talks resuming, that would result with the Dayton Agreement a few months later.

In a highly publicized event, Croatia organized a Freedom Train; running from Zagreb to Knin as a symbol of a free and unified Croatia, since until Operations Flash and Storm, the country was effectively split into 2 segments with little or no land communication.

In 2005, Prime Minister of Croatia Ivo Sanader said, "Storm is a brilliant historical military and police operation that we can be proud of, the operation which liberated central parts of the occupied Croatia." Furthermore, he stated that if a sovereign country is occupied, it has the right to liberate its territory.

War crimes

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Croatian forces also conducted widespread actions against Serb civilians and property which were later condemned by prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[citation needed] It was reported that Croatian forces undertook an extensive campaign of looting and destroying Krajina Serb property.[citation needed]

According to the Croatian Helsinki Committee,[clarify] 677 Serb civilians were killed in the operation. Serbian sources put the number at 2500.[citation needed]

The ICTY Chief Prosecutor alleges that the Croatian forces operated in "'arson squads' using inflammable fuels, incendiary bullets and explosives… [leaving] some towns and numerous villages completely destroyed."[citation needed] The intention of this campaign, according to the Prosecutor, was to make it impossible for the Krajina Serb population to return.

Further, the prosecution charged that hundreds of Krajina Serbs were murdered or disappeared in the wake of Operation Storm. A few notable cases included the killing of five (possibly six) Serb civilians in the hamlet of Grubori in the Plavno valley north of Knin on August 25, and the killings of 18 Serb civilians in the villages of Varivode, Gosici and two other hamlets in the former Sector South in the September of 1995. There were also numerous individual killings or killings of several people from the same household.

By November 1995 the UN peacekeeping force in Croatia, UNCRO, published its estimates of 128 confirmed civilians killed in the operation and destruction of over 73% of all objects in Knin's region[citation needed].

Across the entire region, Serbs were displaced en masse. In Knin, the Croatian Army rounded up and detained all the male inhabitants of fighting age, releasing them after a week.[32] In the town of Obrovac, on the other hand, the entire population had already left during the first day of the operation.[citation needed] When Croatian Radiotelevision reporters entered the town soon afterwards they found a single old man. Many of those people packed whatever they could and went on the road together with their families.

Out of the 122 Serbian Orthodox churches in the area, 17 were damaged, but only one was completely destroyed.[citation needed]According to a claim in the September 1995 communiqué from the Permanent Mission of Croatia to the U.N., most of the damage to the Orthodox churches occurred prior to the Serbian retreat.[33][unreliable source?]

In the years following Operation Storm, Croatian authorities have uncovered over 3,000 bodies, presumed by the authorities to be murdered Croatians, in mass graves in the former Krajina territory, buried since the Serb ethnic cleansing campaign in 1991.[34][not in citation given]

In June 2008, during the prosecution of Ante Gotovina at the Hague, Canadian general Andrew Leslie claimed between 10,000 and 25,000 civilians died in the operation.[35]


Most Serbs fleeing the Krajina region went to Banja Luka or to Serbia proper. The majority of them were resettled in the Serbian province of Vojvodina, and a smaller number were in predominantly Albanian-populated Kosovo in southern Serbia.

In the first days after the offensive, Serbia accepted arriving refugees, but, starting between August 12 and 13, the authorities conscripted able-bodied men who had recently arrived from the Krajina area and sent them to Serb-controlled territory in Bosnia and eastern Slavonia, assigned to Serbian armed forces there.[36] On August 12th, Serbia also announced that men of military age would no longer be allowed to cross from Bosnian Serb-controlled territory into Serbia proper, claiming that it had accepted 107,000 refugees from Krajina since August 4.

Some of the RSK refugees were declared illegal migrants by FRY authorities and many were deported. Some were reportedly turned over by the police to paramilitary units of Željko Ražnatović, a.k.a. Arkan, in the latter's base in the village of Erdut in eastern Slavonia and reported being mistreated by Arkan's men. Reportedly, conscripted refugees taken to eastern Slavonia had been beaten and humiliated in public because they "surrendered Krajina to the enemy."[37]

The large influx of refugees raised local tensions and Vojvodina's sizable Croatian minority was harassed. Liberal opposition leaders in Vojvodina and Croatian government representatives in Belgrade, asserted that between 800 and 1,000 Croats left Vojvodina during August 1995 due to eviction and intimidations from Krajina refugees and local extremists.[38][clarify] [39][clarify]

In The Guardian, Johathan Steele wrote: "I remember being stunned at how quickly victims can turn into villains. In the town of Gibarac just inside the border of Serbia, I watched newly arrived Serb refugees being helped to find shelter by local relatives who went into homes and evicted Croatian families."[40]

Approximately 50,000 refugees remained in Bosnian Serb territory (largely in the Banja Luka area). In retaliation for their displacement, some refugees - with the assistance of Serbian paramilitary groups - forcibly evicted Croats and Muslims from their homes in the area. Other abuses - including execution and disappearance of non-Serbs - also intensified in the Bosanska Krajina area after the August 1995 offensive in Croatia. Local and regional Bosnian Serb authorities encouraged the expulsion of Croats and Muslims from the region, particularly in September and October 1995.[41]

Government of Republika Srpska has on other side ordered the expulsion of all Croats and Muslims from the Banja Luka region. Only exception are Croat and Muslim males of military age. [42] Croatia claims that in the weeks following the operation, over 1,000 Bosnian Croat families were expelled and many were tortured and killed as revenge.[43]. Killings of non-Serbs took place in Bosnia (Banja Luka, Prijedor, Bosanski Novi, and Bosanska Dubica) in September and October, in part to make room for Serb refugees who fled after Operation Storm. Croats reportedly were particular targets for revenge. U.N. and other international observers collected numerous accounts of killings and other atrocities. Only about 3,000 Croats remained in Banja Luka after the war out of 29,000 that had lived there.[44]

Approximately 300,000 Croatian Serbs were displaced during the entire war, only a third of which (or about 117,000) are officially registered as having returned as of 2005. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 200,000 Croatian refugees, mostly Croatian Serbs, are still displaced in neighbouring countries and elsewhere. Many Croatian Serbs cannot return because they have lost their tenancy rights and under threats of intimidation. Croatian Serbs continue to be the victim of discrimination in access to employment and with regard to other economic and social rights. Some cases of violence and harassment against Croatian Serbs continue to be reported.[45] Some of the Croatian Serbs will not return out of fear of being charged for war crimes, as the Croatian police has secret war crime suspect lists; Croatia passed an Amnesty law for anyone who had not taken an active part in the war, but many do not know if they are on amnesty list or not because amnesty rules are not clear enough.[8] [9] The return of refugees is further complicated by the fact that many Croats and Bosniaks (some expelled from Bosnia) have taken residence in their vacated houses. Another reason for the non-return of refugees is the fact that areas that were under Croatian Serb control during the 1991-95 period were economically ruined (unemployment in RSK was 92%). Since that time, Croatia has started a series of projects aimed at rebuilding these areas and jump-starting the economy (including special tax exemptions), but unemployment is still high.

The primary Serb political party in Croatia, SDSS supports the current Croatian government and has made speeding up the return of refugees its main priority. The Croatian government has passed a number of laws aimed at enabling easier return to refugees.

Later events

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Following the death of President Tuđman in 1999, the Croatian authorities began to undertake investigations of the activities of Croatian forces in the wake of Operation Storm. According to Croatia's Ministry of Justice, state prosecutors filed around 3,000 lawsuits against a total of 811 people for crimes allegedly committed during and after the operation.[citation needed] Several dozen people were convicted to jail sentences (up to 20 years according to Croatian law). Amnesty International has criticized the Croatian courts for inadequately investigating the war crimes allegations and failing to protect evidence as well as encouraging impunity for human rights violations.[citation needed]

The ICTY issued indictments against three senior Croatian commanders, Colonel General Ivan Čermak, Colonel General Mladen Markač and Brigadier (later General) Ante Gotovina. The three indictees were said to have had personal and command responsibility for war crimes carried out against Krajina Serb civilians. It was later disclosed by the ICTY prosecutor, Louise Arbour, that had he not died when he did, Croatia's President Tuđman would probably also have been indicted.

Čermak and Markač were handed over to the ICTY, but Gotovina fled. He was widely believed to be at liberty in Croatia or the Croat-inhabited parts of Bosnia, where many view him as a hero, and his continued freedom was attributed to covert help from — or at least a "blind eye" turned by — the Croatian authorities; which proved to be false. The US Government offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Ante Gotovina and he became one of the ICTY's most wanted men. The issue was a major stumbling block for Croatia's international relations. Its application to join the European Union was rebuffed in March 2005 due to the Croatian government's perceived complicity in Gotovina's continued evasion of the ICTY.

On December 8, 2005, Gotovina was captured by Spanish police in a hotel on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. His passport revealed he had been hiding all over the world, including Haiti and Russia.[citation needed] He was transferred to Madrid for court proceedings before extradition to the ICTY at The Hague. The ICTY later joined the proceedings against the three generals into a single case, which is due to start in 2007.[update needed]

Battle figures

According to a Croatian source:[citation needed][who?]

Croatian forces and allies

Croatian Army (HV):

  • 150,000 strong
    • 80,000 soldiers in brigades, 70,000 in home guard regiments (domobranske pukovnije)
    • 2nd echelon, 50,000
    • 3rd echelon, 25 brigades
  • 280 T-55 and 80 M-84 tanks
  • 800 heavy artillery pieces
  • 45-50 rocket launchers
  • 18 MiG-21 "Fishbed" fighter jets
  • 5 Mi-8 "Hip" transport helicopters
  • 12 Mi-24D "Hind" attack helicopters

Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ABiH):

Serbian forces and allies

Army of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (VRSK)

Army of the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia

  • 10,000 strong (?)

See also


  1. ^Croatia: Impunity for Abuses Committed during "OPERATION STORM" and the denial of the Right of Refugees to return to the Krajinka”, Human Rights Watch 8 (13 (D)), August 1996, <
  2. ^ Sisk, Robert (1995-08-05), “Two Navy Planes Fire on Serb Missile Sites”, New York Daily News, <>. Retrieved on 13 April 2008 
  3. ^ Adams, Thomas K. (Summer 1999), “The New Mercenaries and the Privatization of Conflict”, Parameters (United States Army War College): 103-16, <
  4. ^ Smith, Eugene B. (Winter, 2002), “The new condottieri and US policy: The Privatization of Conflict and its implications””, Parameters (United States Army War College): 5-6, <>. Retrieved on 13 April 2008 
  5. ^ Bill Clinton, Voice of America Croatian, <
  6. ^ Richard Holbrooke, Richard Holbrooke's book To End a War, <
  7. ^ ref name=Case No. T-01-45-I>International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (2008-05-13), <
  8. ^ Pearl, Daniel (2002), At Home in the World: Collected Writings from The Wall Street Journal, Simon and Schuster, p. 224, ISBN 074324415X, <>. Retrieved on 13 April 2008 
  9. ^ " DISPUTE WITH EU NEGOTIATOR; Bildt has lost credibility as peace mediator - Foreign Ministry" BBC Summary of World Broadcasts August 7, 1995
  10. ^ Fedarko, Kevin, et all. "The Guns of August." Time Magazine August 14, 1995: 44.URL =,9171,983292,00.html [accessed May 18, 2008]
  11. ^ ibid: ibid
  12. ^ International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (2008-03-12), Amended Joinder Indictment, Gotovina, Čermak and Markač, Case Number IT-06-90, <>. Retrieved on 14 April 2008 
  13. ^ Tanner, Marcus, "Croatia: A Nation Forged In War," New Haven: Yale Nota Bene; p.298
  14. ^ ICTY census UNPA Sector East, <
  15. ^ Human Rights Watch Croatia, <
  16. ^ U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (JANUARY 31, 1994), CROATIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993; Section 2, part d., <
  17. ^ United Nations Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE TERRITORY OF THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA, Section J, Points 147 and 150, <
  18. ^ United Nations Economic and Social Council, SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE TERRITORY OF THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA, Section K, Point 161, <
  19. ^ Institute For War and Peace Reporting, Milosevic Allegedly Angered by Zagreb Shelling, <
  21. ^ Frustrated Croats Are Openly Preparing a Major Assault on a Serbian Enclave
  22. ^ Serb Leaders Proposals for Autonomy, <
  23. ^ Croatian Serbs Won't Even Look At Plan for Limited Autonomy
  24. ^ ICTY against Milan Martic, <
  25. ^ Vreme News Digest of 13 March 1995
  27. ^ NATO Regional Headquarters, Allied Forces Southern Europe, Operation Deny Flight, <
  28. ^ 'Frightened and Jeered At, Serbs Flee From Croatia'. NYT (1995-08-10). Retrieved on 2008-05-17.
  29. ^ Neven Madey (15 August 1995). "Letter from the Chargé d'affaires, a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia (HTML). United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights. Retrieved on 2007-09-11.
  30. ^ 'We needed Operation Storm as much as Croatia did'. interview with General Atif Dudakovic. Bosnian Institute (2006-09-11). Retrieved on 2007-06-12.
  31. ^ Michael. "Serbia Demands International Action", The Independent, 1995-09-05. Retrieved on 2007-06-12
  32. ^ Ratko Gajica of SDSS on Nedjeljom u dva, in 2005.
  33. ^ Blaskovich, Jerry (1997). Anatomy of deceit: an American physician's first-hand encounter with the realities of the war in Croatia. New York: Dunhill Publishing. ISBN 0-935016-24-4
  34. ^ Crown Home Page
  35. ^,6,6,sudjenje_generali,122257.jl
  36. ^ Judah, Tim. "Able-Bodied Refugees Are Forced Back to the Fight", The Daily Telegraph, 1995-09-18
  37. ^ "Spotlight Report No. 20: Violations of Refugees Rights in Serbia and Montenegro", Humanitarian Law Center/Humanitarian Law Fund, p. 11. 
  38. ^ “Helsinki interview with Ivo Kujundzic, Counsellor for Humanitarian Affairs, and Davor Vidis, Spokesperson, Office of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, Belgrade, Serbia”, Human Rights Watch, September 11, 1995 
  39. ^ “Helsinki interview with Nenad Canak, President of the Social Democratic League of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Serbia”, Human Rights Watch, August 31, 1995 
  40. ^ Steele, Jonathan (1999-06-14). Break the cycle of abuse. The Guardian.
  41. ^ Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, "Northwestern Bosnia: Human Rights Abuses during a Cease-Fire and Peace Negotiations," (A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol. 8, no. 1, February 1996)
  42. ^ Patrick Moore (1995-08-15). "Sinister" development in Banja Luka exodus. OMRI Daily Digest. Retrieved on 2009-05-09.
  43. ^ Neven Madey (1995-08-14). Letter from Croatian Government Chargé d'affaires. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved on 2007-06-12.
  44. ^ Gordana Katana (2003-06-20). Bosnia: Papal Boost for Banja Luka. Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Retrieved on 2007-06-12.
  45. ^ Amnesty International. (2005-08-04) Croatia: Operation "Storm" - still no justice ten years on. Retrieved on 2007-06-12.


  • RSK, Vrhovni savjet odbrane, Knin, 4. avgust 1995., 16.45 časova, Broj 2-3113-1/95. The faximile of this document was published in: Rade Bulat "Srbi nepoželjni u Hrvatskoj", Naš glas (Zagreb), br. 8.-9., septembar 1995., p. 90.-96. (the faximile is on the page 93.).
    Vrhovni savjet odbrane RSK (The Supreme Council of Defense of Republic of Serb Krajina) brought a decision 4. August 1995 in 16.45. This decision was signed by Milan Martić and later verified in Glavni štab SVK (Headquarters of Republic of Serb Krajina Army) in 17.20.
  • RSK, Republički štab Civilne zaštite, Broj: Pov. 01-82/95., Knin, 02.08.1995., HDA, Dokumentacija RSK, kut. 265
    This is the document of Republic headquarters of Civil Protection of RSK. In this document it was ordered to all subordinated headquarters of RSK to immediately give all reports about preparations for the evacuation, sheltering and taking care of evacuated civilians ("evakuacija, sklanjanje i zbrinjavanje") (the deadline for the report was 3. August 1995 in 19 h).
  • RSK, Republički štab Civilne zaštite, Broj: Pov. 01-83/95., Knin, 02.08.1995., Pripreme za evakuaciju materijalnih, kulturnih i drugih dobara (The preparations for the evacuation of material, cultural and other goods), HDA, Dokumentacija RSK, kut. 265
    This was the next order from the Republican HQ of Civil Protection.
    It was referred to all Municipal Headquarters of Civil Protection. In that document was ordered to all subordinated HQ's to implement the preparation of evacuation of all material and all mobile cultural goods, archives, evidentions and materials that are highly confidential/top secret, money, lists of valuable stuff (?)("vrednosni popisi") and referring documentations.
  • Drago Kovačević, "Kavez - Krajina u dogovorenom ratu" , Beograd 2003. , p. 93.-94.
  • Milisav Sekulić, "Knin je pao u Beogradu" , Bad Vilbel 2001., p. 171.-246., p. 179.
  • Marko Vrcelj, "Rat za Srpsku Krajinu 1991-95" , Beograd 2002., p. 212.-222.

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