Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.N. Struggling to End Siege Muslims and Serbs Are Jockeying for Position near Sarajevo

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.N. Struggling to End Siege Muslims and Serbs Are Jockeying for Position near Sarajevo

Article excerpt

IF THE UNITED NATIONS gets the Bosnian Serbs to pull their artillery off the mountains around Sarajevo, NATO warplanes might not be needed to end the city's 22-month siege.

Maybe that is why both Bosnia's government and Serb rebels are causing snags in the plan devised by Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Rose, the commander of U.N. forces in former Yugoslavia.

The Muslim-led government has long sought North Atlantic Treaty Organization intervention and could use air cover to capture terrain and guns. Some Serb generals would rather risk fighting NATO than yield positions that have allowed them to shell Sarajevo at will and negotiate from strength for nearly two years.

On Wednesday, Gen. Rose got the Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian government to agree to put their heavy guns under U.N. control. Hours later, NATO threatened to blow Serb guns off the hills with fighter jets if they were not withdrawn beyond a 12-mile radius of the city center.

If the Serbs hand over or withdraw enough weaponry by 6 a.m. Sunday (St. Louis time), U.N. sources predict that there will be no need for NATO action. The Serbs enjoy a huge weapons advantage, while the Bosnian government has more infantrymen.

By this past Sunday, a total of 36 weapons had been handed over to U.N. control - 26 Serb guns and 10 government guns. There are probably hundreds of artillery pieces in and around Sarajevo.

The Serbs have threatened to stop turning in weapons unless the Bosnian government calls its infantry back to the barracks. The government wants the Serbs to hand in more weapons first.

"Why should we deliver any more weapons?" asked Gen. Jovan Divjak, the deputy commander of Bosnia's army. He claimed that Serbs were pulling heavier guns away from Sarajevo and hiding them.

That must have pleased the pragmatic Rose, who has pledged not to shy from using force if necessary to deliver more food aid and bring respite to Sarajevo. …

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