Wednesday, March 24, 1999 Published at 19:33 GMT
Nato bombs Serbia
Up to 400 Allied planes have been on standby
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Nato has begun its first wave of strikes against Serbian military targets.
US defence officials said the attacks began with air and sea-launched cruise missiles.
BBC Correspondents say two explosions have been seen on the outskirts of Belgrade.
An explosion was seen near a big Serb military base near Belgrade.
Pristina was plunged into darkness after the explosions.
The missoles are expected to pave the way for huge bombing raids on Serb forces by up to 400 Nato warplanes on standby in the region.
Air raid sirens were also heard in Belgrade.
Waves of Nato planes took off from the an airbase at Aviano in northeastern Italy shortly after nightfall.
Hours earlier, eight American B-52 bombers, armed with cruise missiles, left from an airbase in England.
''Kosovo's crisis is now full blown,'' he said. ''If we don't act clearly it will get even worse. Only firmness now can prevent greater catastrophe later.''
Military observers say the warplanes will meet a stiffer challenge than air missions over Iraq; western leaders have acknowledged they risk allied casualties.
Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana gave the go-ahead for air strikes against Yugoslavia on Tuesday night, saying there was no option if Nato is to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo.
Thousands of Kosovo Albanians have been fleeing the latest Serb-led offensive heading south into the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.
The United Nations Security Council is to meet shortly at Russia's request.
On Wednesday afternoon, Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic called on his people to be prepared to defend their country "by all means".
In a nationally televised address he warned them that "at stake is the freedom of the entire country".
"We shall defend the country if it is attacked," he said.
Blaming Yugoslav Government "intransigence", the Nato secretary-general has said Nato's quarrel was not with the Yugoslav people and that the attacks would be aimed at weakening the Yugoslav army and special police forces.
President Boris Yeltsin appealed to world leaders in a national television address on Wednesday to keep Bill Clinton from making what he described as a "terrifying and tragic" mistake of launching air strikes against Serbia. Russia says it is ready to call an emergency meeting of the Security Council.
Its Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov has warned that Russia's relations with Washington will be damaged and European stability harmed.
The Russian Defence Minister, Igor Sergeyev, has warned that Nato strikes could produce "a new Vietnam inside Europe".