On 11 July 1995, Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) forces under general Ratko Mladić occupied the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia where more than 8,000 men were killed in the Srebrenica massacre (most women were expelled to Bosniak-held territory). The United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), represented on the ground by a 400-strong contingent of Dutch peacekeepers, Dutchbat, failed to prevent the town's capture by the VRS and the subsequent massacre.
On 14 September 1995, the NATO air strikes were suspended to allow the implementation of an agreement with Bosnian Serbs for the withdrawal of heavy weapons from around Sarajevo.
The ARBiH requested Croatian assistance and on 8 October the HV-HVO launched Operation Southern Move under the overall command of HV Major General Ante Gotovina. The VRS lost the town of Mrkonjić Grad, while HVO units came within 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of Banja Luka.