24 March 2014, 11:57

On March 24, Serbia and Montenegro are observing the sad anniversary of NATO air strikes against former Yugoslavia. On that day 15 years ago, NATO launched a US-led massive bombing campaign in an operation codenamed Allied Force, which lasted 78 days.

The collapse of the Rambouillet talks on Kosovo and Serbia’s rejection of an external peacekeeping force as it actually meant foreign invasion served as the formal pretext for the bombings. For over two months, NATO aircraft and warships were pouring tons of air bombs and cruise missiles almost daily on industrial, infrastructure and other facilities throughout Serbia and Montenegro.

Nineteen NATO member states took part in the operation which went ahead without the approval of the UN Security Council after a mass grave was found in the village of Racak in Kosovo, where the bodies of dozens of Albanian civilians allegedly killed by Serbian troops were said to have been dumped. Later it turned out that it was a “hoax” cooked up by Western secret services. Most of the bodies in the Racak grave were militants of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, who had died in clashes with Yugoslav police in various parts of Kosovo.

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Photo: EPA

NATO delivered a total of 2,300 air strikes on 995 targets during its 11-week bombing campaign, according to Serbian sources. Some 1,150 NATO warplanes were involved in the operation. More than 420,000 shells weighing a total of 22,000 tones hit former Yugoslavia, including 20,000 heavy aviation bombs, 1,300 cruise missiles and 37,000 pellet bombs, most of them stuffed with depleted uranium.

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Photo: EPA

More than 2,000 civilians and 1,000 servicemen were killed in the bombings and over 5,000 others were wounded. Serbia’s defense industry was completely destroyed along with 1,500 villages, 60 bridges, one-third of schools and about 100 historical and cultural monuments.

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Photo: EPA

Serbian experts estimated the damage from NATO’s Allie Force operation at between $60 billion and $100 billion.

The use of depleted uranium shells pushed radiation levels in southern Serbia, especially in Kosovo and Metohija, above the permissible norm and drove cancer rates up.

Voice of Russia

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