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Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 10:02 GMT


Bombing to continue 'night after night'

Harrier crews returned safely from Thursday's attacks

Kosovo: Special Report
Bombing of Yugoslav targets will continue "night after night" until Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic complies with Nato demands over Kosovo, UK Defence Secretary George Robertson has said.

His comments - which are in line with Nato's stated objectives - came as more US Air Force B-52 bombers took off from RAF Fairford, in Gloucestershire, on Friday morning.

George Robertson: "We have limited specific objectives"
Speaking on BBC One's Breakfast News, Mr Robertson said: "If he keeps on with the killing, then night after night we will take more and more chunks out of his murder machine."

In another strongly worded attack on the Serbian president, Mr Robertson also denied that calls from the Italian prime minister for renewed dialogue suggested that the Nato alliance was coming apart.

George Robertson: "They have not ceased their butchery"
At a news conference, Mr Robertson said Yugoslav forces have "persisted in their brutality" and there were reports of "full-scale reprisals" against towns in Kosovo.

He said two villages in north eastern Albania were shelled and a town in Kosovo was surrounded, trapping the population, who were then shelled.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has also promised that attacks will continue while Yugoslavia remains defiant over Kosovo.

Ahead of a nationwide broadcast, he stressed the need for military action.

"If we walk away from Kosovo and the plight of its people, it would be a betrayal of everything this nation stands for at its best," he told the Wales Labour Party Conference.

John McIntyre reports: "The job is far from over"
On Thursday night, RAF Harrier GR7 ground attack jets launched from the Gioia del Colle base in Italy, as up to 100 warplanes took part in the latest wave of attacks.

British military sources the mission against Serb targets had been "successful".

[ image:  ]
Nato officials were quoted as saying all allied aircraft had returned safely to their bases following the action, despite Yugoslav claims that two jets had been shot down.

More Tomahawk cruise missiles were also fired from warships in the Adriatic, with reports suggesting a much greater number were used than in the first wave of bombing.

A BBC correspondent at the Italian base, Jonathan Charles, said the Harrier crews were more confident of having completed a successful bombing mission, following abortive raids on Wednesday night.

'Another substantive strike'

The fresh strikes were confirmed by US defence spokesman Ken Bacon.

Mark Laity reports from Nato Headquarters: "All the planes have returned"
"It will be another substantive strike. It will be severe," he said at the Pentagon, although it is likely to be some time before a comprehensive bomb damage assessment can be completed.

Before the renewed strikes began, RAF pilots at the Italian base revealed why they suddenly halted Wednesday's first bombing mission.

Six Harriers took part in the first round of air strikes, but only one dropped a bomb, which fell short of its target. The others turned back to the base with their bombs still on board.

One of the pilots, who did not wish to be named, said the mission was aborted to avoid unnecessary casualties.

"If we can't hit the target we do not want to start slinging our bombs around and creating collateral damage," he said.

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