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Operation Storm

In summer 1995, Croatia carried out a large scale military operation called Oluja -- Storm -- the objective of which was to reclaim areas of Republic of Croatia held by rebel Serb forces. The operation officially lasted four days and effectively eliminated the wartime "Republic of Serbian Krajina".

After the final cease-fire of 1992, the Croatian army regrouped and eventually started pursuing successful military advances against the Krajina Serbs. In September 1993 they overran a small area near the village of Medak (the so-called Medak pocket, Medački džep) just southeast of the town of Gospić in the mountainous region of Lika.

Following an agreement with the Croatian government in November 1994, The Pentagon contracted Military Professional Resources, Inc (MPRI) to cooperate with the Croatian military, especially with regards to comissioned officers training, modernization of information technology and integration of military with civil economy. Croatia has in May the 1st started "Operation Flash" in which they reclaimed a larger area in western Slavonia in just a few days.

Exhausted by sanctions and overstretched, Serbian forces couldn't cover the majority of the front line. Milosevic practically couldn't have done anything to prevent the military defeat of Croatian and Western Bosnian Serbs. The encroaching of Croatian and West Bosnian Serbs had begun in the mid 1994, with a series of dogged campaigns of Croatian Army and Croatian Defense Council ( HV/HVO). NATO airstrikes in the area west of Brčko were, in effect, insignificant. The truth is that whole Milosevic's project west of Drina river collapsed due to overtaxing the endurance capacity of his people when confronted with an organized and sustained ground troops offensive.

After taking crucial cities in Western Bosnia, Glamoč and Bosansko Grahovo, the "capital" of rebel Serbs, Knin, was surrounded by forces of Croatian Army, poised to strike. The action had begun in early morning, August 4th. Croatian 4th and 7th guards brigades broke through the lines of already demoralized Serb forces, advanced quickly and took over the capital of Krajina, the town of Knin in Dalmatian hinterland on August 5th.

By August 6th, the 1st Brigade penetrated Krajina territory near Slunj and reached the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they met with Bosniak forces of the enclave of western Bosnia. The only strong resistance was met in the town of Glina (south of Sisak).

On the evening of the 7th of August, the operation was declared over as most of the border with Bosnia was controlled by the Croats. Remaining few divisions of the Serbian army peacefully surrendered over the course of the next several days.

Almost the entire Serb civilian population of the area fled during "Storm". The Croatian courts and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia have both investigated the conduct of Croat army personnel during this and related operations. Several high-ranked officers, like generals Ante Gotovina and former chief of staff Janko Bobetko have been indicted by the ICTY for alleged breach of Geneva convention.

So far, the legitimacy of the Operation Storm has not been questioned by any institution. Also, out of more than 10 top Croatian generals who led the operation, the ICTY has indicted one, general Ante Gotovina. The future relations between Croatia and the ICTY depend, to a great extent, on the way the Hague prosecution will handle the Operation Storm and its chief commanders.

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