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Friday, April 9, 1999 Published at 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK


Milosevic is 'feeling the heat'

A fuel depot ablaze east of Belgrade on Friday morning

The Foreign Secretary Robin Cook says that Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic is feeling the impact of relentless Nato air strikes on his forces.

Kosovo: Special Report
He told a news conference in London that President Milosevic was "feeling the heat" and trying in vain to divide the Nato alliance with "empty gestures" such as this week's offer of a "unilateral ceasefire" in Kosovo.

Mr Cook said Nato had launched 200 attacks against almost 150 targets, ranging from ministries in Belgrade to tanks on the ground in Kosovo.

"We have disrupted every point in his chain of command," he said. Nato had "hit home" against Yugoslav air defences, destroying aircraft on the ground and in the air.

Serb army 'using mobile phones'

Outlining the damage to Serb military forces, General Sir Charles Guthrie said access to fuel had been reduced by 50% and half of the Yugoslav airforce's MiG-29 fighters had been destroyed.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell: Analysts believe Milosevic's goal is partition of Kosovo
Telephone lines, he said, had been so seriously damaged that Serbs could only use mobile telephones.

He told reporters that 10 RAF Harrier GR7s had been in action again on Thursday attacking targets on the ground in Kosovo.

Two groups of military vehicles had been destroyed in a cluster bomb attack in southern and western Kosovo.

No capacity to make fuel

Attacks on oil refineries meant the Serbs were no longer able to refine crude oil into petroleum and the air defence system had been severely damaged with early warning radar and missiles destroyed in the attacks, he said.

[ image: Milosevic: Predicted to make weekend offer]
Milosevic: Predicted to make weekend offer
The Yugoslavian command and control structure had also been seriously disrupted with two of the three main army headquarters completely destroyed.

General Guthrie went on to accuse the Serb of deliberately causing damage in their own towns and cities and then blaming it on Nato.

"We are continuing to hear disturbing reports of plans by Milosevic to create scenes of devastation so that they can be blamed on Nato air strikes," he said.

More atrocities

The general said Nato was also continuing to receive reports of atrocities by Serb forces in Kosovo. In one incident 35 people were said to have been murdered and in another atrocity four lorry loads of bodies were buried and a fifth burned.

[ image: Robin Cook: Nato has
Robin Cook: Nato has "hit home"
Earlier Mr Cook emphasised the unity of Nato in its determination to stop the "ethnic pogrom" of Kosovo's Albanians.

He predicted that President Milosevic would make another "empty gesture" this weekend to try to stop the bombing.

"It would be entirely in his character this weekend to throw out some empty gesture and pose as a man of peace," he told a news conference.

"It won't work. It will take more than an empty gesture to stop Nato's military campaign."

He outlined Nato's demands which are:

  • A ceasefire on the ground in Kosovo
  • A halt to ethnic cleansing
  • The withdrawal of Yugoslav army troops, police, and "paramilitary thugs"
  • The admission of an international military force to protect returning refugees.

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