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Sunday, March 28, 1999 Published at 07:52 GMT


Britons 'support Nato strikes'

US soldiers inspect a Yugoslav Mig-29 shot down over Bosnia

A majority of the British people support the Nato air strikes against targets in Yugoslavia, according to separate opinion polls in three Sunday newspapers.

A Marplan poll in the The Sunday Times said 69% of respondents supported the air strikes while 31% opposed them.

Kosovo: Special Report
The Observer said its ICM International survey indicated 56% support the UK's role in Operation Allied Force while 28% did not. The remainder were undecided.

Two-thirds of respondents in a Mail on Sunday/MORI-online survey endorsed Tony Blair's decision to join in the Nato air strikes.

On Friday, around 80% of respondents to BBC News Online's own Talking Point poll opposed the air strikes.

[ image: Not one British soldier's life is worth losing, say 56% of respondents in one poll]
Not one British soldier's life is worth losing, say 56% of respondents in one poll
However, Talking Point included respondents from all over the world while the Observer and Sunday Times polls involved only UK residents.

Clear objectives?

In The Observer poll, of a random sample of 517 adults questioned on Friday, 38% believed Nato had clear objectives but 37% disagreed.

The Sunday Times poll, which questioned 506 adults on Friday and Saturday, found 51% in favour of using ground troops in Kosovo and 43% opposed to the idea.

Thirty-nine per cent of respondents to The Observer poll supported British troops fighting Serb forces as part of a Nato force.

But 79% would like to see troops patrolling a peacekeeping agreement.

UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook says: "We cannot eliminate the risks to our airmen"
The Mail on Sunday poll provided some slightly contradictory results. Although 87% believed Britain had a "moral duty" to intervene in Yugoslavia, 56% felt the Kosovo conflict was not worth losing a single British life.

Comparisons with Hitler

Meanwhile, UK Defence Secretary George Robertson has drawn similarities between Slobodan Milosevic and Adolf Hitler.

Writing in the News of the World, he said: "For over a year Slobodan Milosevic - the butcher of Belgrade - has been embarked on a path of ethnic cleansing.

[ image: George Robertson compares Mr Milosevic to Hitler]
George Robertson compares Mr Milosevic to Hitler
"With his murderous secret police and thugs in uniform, he has been killing men, women and children in Kosovo.

"Simply because they are Albanian and he is a Serb."

Mr Robertson said the UK could not stand idly by while "ordinary families" were wiped out.

He said: "We must learn the lesson of the early days of Hitler.

"Had we stood up to his tyranny earlier, the course of history might have been very different."

Mr Robertson said: "And so we had to bring Milosevic to heel, before the spark of violence erupted throughout the Balkans."

Another paper claimed Mr Robertson was preparing to send in the SAS to "take out" Serb war criminals in Kosovo.

The Sunday People says the elite commandos will drop into the Serbian province by helicopter and attack Serbian units which are involved in "ethnic cleansing".

'Iraq and Yugoslavia co-operating'

The Sunday Telegraph claims Mr Milosevic has set up an "unholy alliance" with Iraq's President Saddam Hussein.

The paper claims the Yugoslavian leader has offered to rebuild Iraq's air defence systems, which were devastated during Operation Desert Fox.

In return, Baghdad is reportedly giving Belgrade advice and assistance on how to withstand the Allied onslaught.

A Downing Street spokesman told the paper: "The Prime Minister is aware of these reports. Nothing would surprise us about Saddam or Milosevic."

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