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Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 23:30 GMT


RAF videos show Serbia bombings

A Yugoslav ammunition store is destroyed

Dramatic video footage of "successful" attacks by RAF Harrier GR7s on Serb targets has been shown by the Ministry of Defence to demonstrate the accuracy of ongoing Nato bombing missions.

Kosovo: Special Report
In images reminiscent of the Gulf conflict, the British warplanes were shown targeting and destroying ammunition stores and other facilities during raids on Thursday night.

The demonstration followed assurances by both Prime Minister Tony Blair and Defence Secretary George Robertson that Nato air strikes were necessary and would continue "night after night".

John McIntyre reports: "The job is far from over"
Nato launched a military offensive - dubbed Allied Force - on Wednesday night in an effort to force Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic to halt a reportedly brutal "counter-insurgency" operation against Kosovo Albanians.

MoD spokesman RAF Group Captain Steve Parkinson explained how six Harrier GR7s led each other in a "co-operative" attack on the Leskovac military complex in southern Serbia

[ image:  ]
The videos showed how one Harrier designated the target with a laser, while a second launched a Paveway II bomb to destroy it.

Seconds later, an ammunition store is seen engulfed by a massive explosion. Other buildings in the same complex were shown being hit in the same way.

"Surely those weapons inside those storage areas will now have been destroyed," Gp Capt Parkinson said.

[ image:  ]
He added: "I should remind you the Harrier pilot is in an extremely complex environment when he is carrying out this attack."

He illustrated the point with video of a Harrier pilot taking evasive action after being "illuminated" by ground defence radar.

As warplanes took to the air again on Friday, military sources confirmed that 64 aircraft took part in Thursday's raids.

'No betrayal'

More than 50 Yugoslav targets have been bombed in over 400 Nato sorties.

However, Air Commodore David Wilby said there had been no let up in Serb attacks against Kosovar civilians. He also revealed that 300 Serbian criminals had been released to join militias conducting operations in Kosovo.

George Robertson: "We have limited specific objectives"
Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Wales, Tony Blair said bombing raids would continue until Serbia's "brutal ethnic cleansing" had stopped.

"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 said.

Mr Blair defended military action in a TV broadcast on Friday evening.

Charlton Athletic's Yugoslav goalkeeper Sasa Ilic: "What the government is doing is totally unjust"
But it did not prevent a crowd of about 250, including one English Premiership footballer, protesting outside Downing Street. On Friday morning, the defence secretary, Mr Robertson, reaffirmed the government's position, saying: "If he keeps on with the killing, then night after night, we will take more and more chunks out of his murder machine."

George Robertson: "They have not ceased their butchery"
Mr Robertson denied that calls from the Italian prime minister for renewed dialogue suggested that the Nato alliance was coming apart.

But in a worrying development for crucial Nato unity, member state Greece said that it wanted an end to the bombing and favoured a diplomatic solution.

The defence secretary also described "full-scale reprisals" by Yugoslav forces, with two villages in north eastern Albania reportedly shelled and a town in Kosovo surrounded - trapping the population who were then shelled.

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