1992-04-06 to 1995-12-14
Bosnia and HerzegovinaThe Bosnian War was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. Following a number of violent incidents in early 1992, the war is commonly viewed as having started on 6 April 1992. The war ended on 14 December 1995. The main belligerents were the forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and those of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska and Herzeg-Bosnia, which were led and supplied by Serbia and Croatia, respectively.
In the First multi-party election in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in November 1990, votes were cast largely according to ethnicity, leading to the success of the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, the Serbian Democratic Party and the Croatian Democratic Union.
On 25 March, Franjo Tuđman and Serbian President Slobodan Milošević held a meeting in Karađorđevo. The meeting became controversial in later months due to claims by some Yugoslav politicians that the two presidents agreed to the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
On 25 June 1991, both Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, which led to a short armed conflict in Slovenia called the Ten-Day War, and an all-out war in Croatia in the Croatian War of Independence in areas with a substantial ethnic Serb population.
In July 1991, representatives of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), including SDS president Karadžić, and Muhamed Filipović and Adil Zulfikarpašić from the Muslim Bosniak Organisation (MBO), drafted an agreement known as the Zulfikarpašić–Karadžić agreement which would leave SR Bosnia and Herzegovina in a state union with SR Serbia and SR Montenegro. The agreement was denounced by Croat political parties. Although initially welcoming the initiative, Izetbegović later dismissed the agreement.
In September 1991, Croatian National Guard (ZNG) organised armed incursions across the Croatian border into Bosnia. ZNG opened mortar fire on Bosanska Dubica on 13 September 1991, and raided Bosanski Brod on 15 September 1991.
On 20 September 1991, the JNA transferred troops to the front at Vukovar via the Višegrad region of northeastern Bosnia. In response, local Croats and Bosniaks set up barricades and machine-gun posts. They halted a column of 60 JNA tanks but were dispersed by force the following day. More than 1,000 people had to flee the area. This action, nearly seven months before the start of the Bosnian War, caused the first casualties of the Yugoslav Wars in Bosnia.
On 25 September 1991, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 713, imposing an arms embargo on all of the former Yugoslav territories. The embargo hurt the Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina the most because the Republic of Serbia inherited the lion's share of the Yugoslav People Army's arsenal and the Croatian Army could smuggle weapons through its coast. Over 55% of the armories and barracks of the former Yugoslavia were located in Bosnia, owing to its mountainous terrain in anticipation of a guerrilla war had Yugoslavia been invaded, but many of those factories (such as the UNIS PRETIS factory in Vogošća) were under Serb control, and others were inoperable due to a lack of electricity and raw materials.
On 18 November 1991, the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia was established in Mostar. Mate Boban was chosen as its president. Its founding document said: "The Community will respect the democratically elected government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina for as long as exists the state independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina in relation to the former, or any other, Yugoslavia".
The Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia in its 11 January 1992 Opinion No. 4 on Bosnia and Herzegovina stated that the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina should not be recognised because the country had not yet held a referendum on independence.
The Bosnian Serb assembly members advised Serbs to boycott the referendums held on 29 February and 1 March 1992. The turnout to the referendums was reported as 63.7%, with 92.7% of voters voting in favour of independence (implying that Bosnian Serbs, which made up approximately 34% of the population, largely boycotted the referendum).
on 28 March 1992, Izetbegović, after meeting with the then-US ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmermann in Sarajevo, withdrew his signature and declared his opposition to any type of ethnic division of Bosnia.
From May to December 1992, the Bosnian Ministry of the Interior (BiH MUP), Croatian Defence Council (HVO) and later the Bosnian Territorial Defence Forces (TO RBiH) operated the Čelebići prison camp. It was used to detain 700 Bosnian Serb prisoners of war arrested during military operations that were intended to de-block routes to Sarajevo and Mostar in May 1992 which had earlier been blocked by Serb forces. Of these 700 prisoners, 13 died while in captivity.
The Army of Republika Srpska was newly established and put under the command of General Ratko Mladić, in a new phase of the war. Shelling on Sarajevo on 24, 26, 28 and 29 May were attributed to Mladić by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
On 7 January 1993, Orthodox Christmas Day, 8th Operational Unit Srebrenica, a unit of the ARBiH under the command of Bratunac Killings, attacked the village of Kravica near Bratunac. 46 Serbs died in the attack: 35 soldiers and 11 civilians.
By 26 January, the ARBiH seized control of several villages in the area, including Kaćuni and Bilalovac on the Busovača–Kiseljak road, thus isolating Kiseljak from Busovača. In the Kiseljak area, the ARBiH secured the villages northeast of the town of Kiseljak, but most of the municipality and the town itself remained in HVO control.
On 30 January, ARBiH and HVO leaders met in Vitez, together with representatives from UNPROFOR and other foreign observers, and signed a ceasefire in the area of central Bosnia, which came into effect on the following day.
On 22 February 1993, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 808 that decided "that an international tribunal shall be established for the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law".
The April incidents escalated into an armed conflict on 15 April in the area of Vitez, Busovača, Kiseljak and Zenica. The outnumbered HVO in the Zenica municipality was quickly defeated, followed by a large exodus of Croat civilians.
On 16 April, the HVO (The Croatian Defence Council) launched a spoiling attack on the village of Ahmići, east of Vitez. After the attacking units breached the ARBiH lines and entered the village, groups of irregular HVO units went from house to house, burning them and killing civilians. The massacre in Ahmići resulted in more than 100 killed Bosniak civilians.
A similar development took place in Novi Travnik. On 9 June, the ARBiH (Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina) attacked HVO units positioned east of the town, facing the VRS in Donji Vakuf, and the next day heavy fighting followed in Novi Travnik.
By 15 June, the ARBiH secured the area northwest of the town, while the HVO kept the northeastern part of the municipality and the town of Novi Travnik. The battle continued into July with only minor changes on the front lines.
On 5 February 1994, Sarajevo suffered its deadliest single attack of the entire siege with the first Markale massacre, when a 120 millimeter mortar shell landed in the centre of the crowded marketplace, killing 68 people and wounding another 144.
On 9 February 1994, NATO authorized the Commander of Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH), US Admiral Jeremy Boorda, to launch air strikes—at the request of the UN—against artillery and mortar positions in or around Sarajevo determined by UNPROFOR to be responsible for attacks against civilian targets.
The Croat-Bosniak war ended with the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the HVO Chief of Staff, general Ante Roso, and the ARBiH Chief of Staff, general Rasim Delić, on 23 February 1994 in Zagreb. The agreement went into effect on 25 February.
On 20 March an aid convoy with medical supplies and doctors reached Maglaj, a city of 100,000 people, which had been under siege since May 1993 and had been surviving off food supplies dropped by US aircraft. A second convoy on 23 March was hijacked and looted.
Around 29 April 1994, a Danish contingent (Nordbat 2) on peacekeeping duty in Bosnia, as part of UNPROFOR's Nordic battalion located in Tuzla, was ambushed when trying to relieve a Swedish observation post (Tango 2) that was under heavy artillery fire by the Bosnian Serb Šekovići brigade at the village of Kalesija.
On 5 August, at the request of UNPROFOR, NATO aircraft attacked a target within the Sarajevo Exclusion Zone after weapons were seized by Bosnian Serbs from a weapons collection site near Sarajevo.
On 5 October 1994, Pub.L. 103–337 was signed by the President and stated that if the Bosnian Serbs had not accepted the Contact Group proposal by 15 October the President should introduce a UN Security Council proposal to end the arms embargo, and that if it was not passed by 15 November, only funds required by all UN members under Resolution 713 could be used to enforce the embargo, which would effectively end the embargo.
The first military effort coordinated between the HVO and the ARBiH following the Washington Agreement was the advance towards Kupres, which was retaken from the VRS on 3 November 1994.
On 29 November, the HV and the HVO initiated Operation Winter 94 in southwestern Bosnia. After a month of fighting, Croat forces had taken around 200 square kilometres (77 square miles) of VRS-held territory and directly threatened the main supply route between Republika Srpska and Knin, the capital of Republic of Serbian Krajina. The primary objective of relieving pressure on the Bihać pocket was not achieved, although the ARBiH repelled VRS attacks on the enclave.
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.