AS Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic talks peace at the
United Nations, his forces are attempting to drive the last Muslims
from what was for more than a century Bosnia-Herzegovina's mostly
Muslim northeastern flank.
Not even the presence of the UN commander for Bosnia, French
Gen. Philippe Morillon, in the besieged enclave of Srebrenica and
the attention he has focused on the plight of its 60,000 war-weary
people have deterred the Bosnian Serbs.
UN officials reported yesterday that during the preceding 24
hours, Mr. Karadzic's forces had advanced closer to the town,
overrunning Muslim villages nestled in the mountains along the
Drina River border between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.
"The noose around Srebrenica has been tightened considerably," a
UN official said. "There has been a big Serbian advance."
The fall of Srebrenica would be the final blow of a Serbian
offensive launched last month to complete the "ethnic cleansing" of
eastern Bosnia that began at the start of the war almost a year ago.
Under the pretext of avenging a purported massacre of Serbian
soldiers, Karadzic's forces took aim at the last Muslim pockets,
first overrunning the village of Cerska. Early this week, they
conquered nearby Konjevic Polje.
The UN Security Council confirmed that during the operation,
Serb commanders defied the UN "no fly" zone over Bosnia, sending
aircraft on bombing raids against Muslim positions.
Refugees from Cerska and Konjevic Polje, including women,
children, and the wounded, fled to Srebrenica through snow-bound
"People were able to reach Srebrenica. But they have now reached
the end of the line," says Laurens Jolles, a UN High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) official who visited Srebrenica last week.
"There is nowhere else for them to go."
General Morillon, fearing huge numbers of civilian deaths,
established his headquarters in Srebrenica last weekend in a bid to
deter an inevitable Serbian attack that many observers anticipate.
The Bosnian Serbs' intention to complete the onslaught has been
underscored by their refusal to allow through a UN convoy carrying
140 metric tons of food and medicine destined for the town.
Bosnia's Ambassador to the UN Muhamed Sacirbey said yesterday
Serb bombers had conducted a raid on the outskirts of Srebernica
Land access needed
Nightly airdrops of relief supplies from the United States have
been helpful, UN officials say, but mass starvation in Srebrenica
can only be averted by land convoys. …