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27 years since Croatian massacre Maslenica that killed 348 Serbs, destroying their homes

Operation Maslenica was planned and executed by Janko Bobetko, Ante Gotovina, Ante Roso, Mirko Norac and Mladen Markac, with the knowledge and approval of Franjo Tudjman, then president of the republic and commander-in-chief of the Croatian Army

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On January 22, 1993, the Croatian Army carried out an aggression, codenamed "Maslenica", against the southern parts of the Republic of Serb Krajina (RSK).

The aggression was carried out during the implementation of the Vance Plan, which a year earlier put the RSK under the protection of the UN peacekeeping force (UNPROFOR). It was Croatia's third aggression against an area protected by the UN, an organization that it had joined 2 years earlier.

Over the next few days, the Croatian armed forces managed to occupy several tens of square kilometers in Ravni Kotari, including the Zemunik Airport, several heights on Mt. Velebit, and take control of the Peruca dam and hydroelectric power plant.

Three Serb villages were the most affected by this aggression: Islam Grcki, Kasic and Smokovic, as well as ethnically mixed villages: Murvica, Crno, Zemunik Gornji, Poljica and Islam Latinski. Serbs from the villages mentioned were killed, driven out or taken to prisons and camps, Banija.rs reports.

Oluja, hrvatska, izbeglice, rat u Hrvatskoj

Photo: Guliver/Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Their rich faming households were looted, devastated and destroyed, cultural monuments, cemeteries and churches devastated, desecrated or demolished, among them Dvori Jankovic Stojana in Islam Grcki with a small church dedicated to St. George (Georgije) (consecrated in 1675), in which the famous writer Vladan Desnica was buried, and the church of St. George (consecrated in 1567) in Smokovic and St. Ilija (consecrated 1872) in Kasic.

According to the organization Veritas and its records, 348 Serbs, 55 civilians, with an average age of 60, were killed or went missing in this aggression. The victims include 34 women, with an average age of 57 and three children under 12. Among the victims are 65 volunteers from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina who came to Ravni Kotari to help local Serbs defend their centuries-old homes. Out of the total number of victims so far, the fate of 337 persons has been clarified, while 11 more are kept on the register as missing persons, of which 6 are civilians, including 3 women.

In the next few months, 165 persons more died, mostly the elderly. More than ten thousand Serbs were driven out from the aforementioned villages, to be displaced all over the world.

Oluja, hrvatska, izbeglice, rat u Hrvatskoj

Photo: Guliver/Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

One of the gravest crimes, already on the first day of the aggression, happened at the Mali Alan pass on Mt. Velebit, near an UNPROFOR observation post, when members of Croatia's Special Police "Alfa" ambushed, killed and massacred 22 members of the Serb Krajina Army (SVK) from the area of ​​Gracac. This massacre was committed by members of the 5th Alfa squad, commanded by Milijan Brkic aka Vaso, currently deputy leader of the HDZ party and vice-president of the Croatian parliament.

Operation Maslenica was planned and executed by Janko Bobetko, Ante Gotovina, Ante Roso, Mirko Norac and Mladen Markac, with the knowledge and approval of Franjo Tudjman, then president of the republic and commander-in-chief of the Croatian Army who were already or subsequently promoted to the rank of general.

Franjo Tuđman

Photo: Profimedia/AFP

During this aggression, the Velebit sector artillery chief was a Kosovo Albanian, who until 1991 served in the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA): Agim Ceku. (Ssince 1999 he served as KLA commander and then of Kosovo Security Force, and was also prime minister and minister of security forces). Ceku's mortars, due to indiscriminate shelling of Benkovac and Obrovac municipalities, killed the most civilians.

Although the aggression was carried out against a UN protected zone and before the eyes of many UNPROFOR members, nobody has been prosecuted for crimes against Serbs committed in this operation either in international or in domestic courts, writes Banija.rs.

Video: How Operation Storm changed Knin?

(Telegraf.rs/Banija.rs)

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