War Briefing April 13

 

Reinforcements

Britain sending 1,8000 troops to Macedonia join its 6,300 in the region. Reinforcement will include: 14 Challenger 1 battle tanks; 40 Warrior armoured fighting vehicles; Six AS90 self-propelled guns; One squadron of armoured engineers, for bridge-building and mine-clearance work, with 20 assorted vehicles, from 32 Engineer Regiment based at Hohne; 20 armoured reconnaissance vehicles with 150 troops.

Nato's supreme commander. US General Wesley Clark, asked the Pentagon for some 300 additional warplanes in addition to 82 planes granted him three days ago.

The Dutch are sending an extra 360 troops to Albania to join the eight military police already there. In addition, 120 troops will go the Macedonia to join the 250 Dutch troops there.

The Campaign

General Wesley Clark expresses regret for deaths of 10 train passengers. Remotely directed bomb aimed at bridge and pilot only saw train at last minute: "Suddenly the train appeared...it was really unfortunate," he said.

British Harrier jets drop 200 1,000lb bombs in over night raids

Six Tornado GR1's also involved attacking an airfield and an ammunition depot in Kragujevac, around 60 miles to the south of Belgrade.

British inventory of targets his so far reads: More than 50 surface-to-air missile sites hit and "majority" destroyed; more than 50 per cent of Serbian MiG29 fulcrum fighters destroyed; "many" of key airfields damaged; over 40 hangars and support facilities destroyed.

Tanjug, the official Yugoslav news agency says allied bombers over Belgrade met with heavy anti-aircraft fire. Nato hits acknowledged on: the Pancevo oil refinery, across the Danube north of Belgrade; radio station says barracks in a residential area of Belgrade south also hit.

Diplomacy

US secretary Madeleine Albright and Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov meet in Oslo and agreed to disagree about ways to end the conflict but agree to keep on talking. "We have taken steps forward - perhaps not as a big a step as we hoped, " said Mr Ivanov after the flour hour meeting.

Refugees

Over 2,000 more people entered Macedonia overnight.

UNHCR estimated over 530,000 people have left Kosovo since March 1998 - the vast majority, 450,000 since the NATO campaign began on March 24th last. Albania is home to around 314,000 of them, 116,000 are in Macedonia, and 65,000 are in Montenegro. In addition, around 27,000 people have fled to Bosnia.

Inside Kosovo

A total of 21 missiles reported in Pristina to have been directed at nearby oil refinery and plastics factory; and oil depot outside Sombor and Ladjevci airport.

Inside Albania

100 Serb forces said to have entered Albania and fought with border guards for eight hours near village of Kamenica. The incursion, confirmed by OSCE who say Serbs burned homes in the village, is denied as "outrageous" by Belgrade. US and Nato would consider any Serb efforts to widen conflict "with utmost seriousness".

Quote of the Day

If Nato is to win Kosovo, it will need to move from the present, hitherto largely unsuccessful, air campaign, to ground offensive. The war will no longer be a video game that carries no risks - General Sir Michael Rose, former commander of the UN Bosnia.