Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serbs, U.N. Raise Ante U.S. Marines Head to Area

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serbs, U.N. Raise Ante U.S. Marines Head to Area

Article excerpt

Bosnian Serbs upgraded their arsenal with tanks and other armor seized from their U.N. hostages Monday, while the West stepped up pressure by sending thousands of troops toward Bosnia.

But it remained unclear whether U.S. Marines, British and French troops and a French aircraft carrier were dispatched to save the confused U.N. mission or to pull peacekeepers out in defeat.

The Bosnian army reported the Serbs making new moves to stymie any outside rescue of the approximately 370 trapped U.N. peacekeepers. It said Serbs had unleashed heavy artillery attacks on the main road that Western troops would use to reach Sarajevo.

The road connects the Bosnian capital with Split, the Croatian port where British troops are headed. The shelling took place near Mostar, about 50 miles southwest of Sarajevo. But the United Nations reported only four to five shell impacts in Sarajevo on Monday, compared with 337 last Wednesday when it issued the airstrike ultimatum.

Britain said it would send as many as 6,200 soldiers to Bosnia, with the first expected to arrive today in Split. It warned the Serbs of "very severe consequences" if any captives were harmed. Britain already has 3,300 soldiers in Bosnia.

British Defense Minister Malcolm Rifkind told BBC radio, "We have no intention of launching a war in Bosnia . . . but the protection of our own forces is a crucial requirement."

About 2,000 U.S. Marines were being sent to the Adriatic Sea, where the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt also was headed. Anthony Lake, President Bill Clinton's national security adviser, said that the Marines were being sent "as a precautionary measure" and that no decision had been made to send them into Bosnia.

France has threatened to withdraw its 3,800 peacekeepers - the largest contingent in Bosnia - unless the U.N. mission is strengthened. France also has sent an aircraft carrier to the Adriatic, as well as 2,000 soldiers.

The German newspaper Die Welt quoted unidentified sources as saying that Britain, France, the United States and Canada were preparing commando-style raids to rescue detained peacekeepers.

U.N. officials said Serbs were treating the peacekeepers reasonably well and had released some Russians, who traditionally have been Serb allies. But the Serbs showed no signs of blinking in the fourth day of their faceoff with the United Nations, NATO and world leaders. By Monday afternoon, they had upgraded their arsenal of more than 200 heavy weapons around Sarajevo with 36 U.N. armored vehicles, including six light tanks, U.N. officials said.

At a meeting chaired by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on Monday, the Bosnian Serb army supreme command rescinded all accords with the United Nations in Bosnia. It also warned that any change in the U.N.'s mandate would have to be cleared with it first. …

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