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Thursday, March 25, 1999 Published at 16:40 GMT


UK: Attacks will resume

Cruise missiles wait to be loaded onto B-52s at RAF Fairford

Defence Secretary George Robertson has said air strikes will continue until Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic agrees to end the violence in Kosovo.

George Robertson: "We hit hard"
He spoke as the Ministry of Defence outlined British targets in Kosovo and revealed that only one of its six Harriers launched a missile.

The bomb fell short of its target, prompting the other Harriers to return to base with their bombs still on board.

Kosovo: Special Report
But Mr Robertson said Nato hit hard, and would continue to do so until its military objectives had been achieved.

"Milosevic should think again, withdraw his troops from Kosovo and sign the peace accord," Mr Robertson told the MoD news conference.

But in a signal that he does not have his party fully behind him, Lord Jenkins resigned the party whip in the House of Lords in protest at the air strikes.

Tony Blair: "We have no alternative"
The veteran Labour peer accused the government of supporting "murder", saying the action amounts to "criminal barbarity".

Prime Minister Tony Blair plans to make a nationwide television broadcast on Friday to argue the case for military action.

Meanwhile, at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, B-52 bombers have been loaded with cruise missiles in preparation for fresh attacks.

Key facilities targeted

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Sir Charles Guthrie said the Royal Navy submarine HMS Splendid fired land-attack missiles for the first time in the initial attack.

Charles Guthrie: Important to keep objectives clear
Sir Charles said key facilities, including a radar facility near the Pristina airfield and an ammunitions base, had been targeted.

But it was too soon to give details of the damage.

"It will probably take some time for Nato to conduct a full battle damage assessment exercise," he said.

[ image:  ]
In a third wave of attacks on Wednesday night, the Harriers had to abort their mission due to visibility problems.

"Because of explosions, fire and smoke caused by the first two waves, our Harriers had difficulty seeing and maintaining lock on their targets," he said.

In a separate news conference, Nato commander General Wesley Clark said a total of 40 sites had been hit.

Yugoslav sources reported that 10 Yugoslav soldiers were killed and a further 38 injured.

'Clear objectives'

Mr Robertson said that the military objective of the air strikes was absolutely clear.

[ image:  ]
"It is to avert an impending humanitarian catastrophe by disrupting the violent attacks currently being carried out by the Yugoslav security forces against the Kosovar Albanians and to limit their ability to conduct such repression in the future," he said.

He also paid tribute to the soldiers in the field.

"We are well aware of the considerable risks, and we salute the bravery of the servicemen and women who are undertaking these operations on our behalf," he said.

Sir Charles said Nato had no intention of sending in ground troops to Kosovo, which he said could aggravate the humanitarian crisis.

He also said contingency plans had been made in the event that Nato forces in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia should come under attack.

About 4,500 British troops were sent there to take part in a Nato-led implementation force, in the event of the peace plan being signed by both sides.

Blair: Successful raids

Tony Blair, speaking earlier from the EU summit in Berlin, said the raids had been "successful".

Tony Blair: Raids are taking place for a very specific reason
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 Macedonia and other countries in the region.

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."

Opposition to raids

Despite broad cross-party support for the raid, there has been some sharp criticism about Nato's long-term strategy.

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?

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

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