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Thursday, March 25, 1999 Published at 10:41 GMT


UK: Raids will go on

Explosions light up the Belgrade skyline

Defence Secretary George Robertson has told Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that he can only halt further air strikes by ceasing repression in Kosovo.

Kosovo: Special Report
Nato forces are making further raids against Yugoslavia as they assess the damage from the first wave of attacks.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that the operation had already done "very substantial damage" to Yugoslavia's military assets.

All allied planes involved in the initial strikes, including six British Harrier jump jets, returned to base safely.

George Robertson: Serbs must return to the negotiating table
The Royal Navy submarine HMS Splendid was also involved, firing cruise missiles from the Adriatic.

The Yugoslav army reported it had suffered casualties on the ground and said 40 sites were hit by Nato.

Lisa Holland: Public reaction has been mixed
Mr Robertson said: "We hope President Milosevic will call a halt to the violence and take out troops from Kosovo and return to the negotiating table and sign up to the peace agreement that is in his interest and Europe's. If not, we must continue.

"We will have to continue to damage the war machine with which he is repressing violently and savagely the people of Kosovo."

He is expected to outline the extent of the damage caused by the strikes at a Ministry of Defence briefing at 1130 GMT.

Tony Blair: Raids are taking place for a very specific reason
Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking from the EU summit in Berlin, said the raids had been "successful".

He also said he would be talking to the Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov to try to ease Moscow's strong opposition to the air strikes.

The Russian Government fears the Nato operation could lead to the Kosovo conflict spreading to Maecdonia and other countries in the region.

[ image:  ]
But Mr Blair said: "The very reason we are taking this action is to prevent a humanitarian disaster and to prevent the conflict in Kosovo from spreading to the rest of the Balkans.

At Parliament there has been broad cross-party support for the raids.

Robin Cook: Our long-term plans don't involve an invasion
However, several senior Labour figures have sharply criticised the UK's involvement in the Nato operation.

MP Tam Dalyell said: "We won't be able to bomb the Serbs into submission.

"If you were a Serb serviceman and had lost wife and children as has apparently happened in northern Yugoslavia, how would you react?

[ image: Tony Blair: Seeking to allay Russian opposition to raids]
Tony Blair: Seeking to allay Russian opposition to raids
"Those people are extremely tough. And don't let's think it's some easy one-week affair. What we have set in progress heaven knows."

Lord Healey said the allied action against could have a "catastrophic" effect on western relations with Russia and China.

The former Cabinet minister condemned Nato for acting too quickly and said that the air strikes could result in "serious consequence for the whole world".

"It is quite clear already that Nato has no long-term plan, doesn't know how or when it will get out, whether it will have to put land troops in as well, so it is absolutely vital we resume negotiations," he added.

Hundreds of protesters voiced their opposition to the strikes outside Downing Street overnight. Protests are expected to continue throughout the day.

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