Operation Mistral 2, officially codenamed Operation Maestral 2, was a Croatian Army (HV) and Croatian Defence Council (HVO) offensive in western Bosnia and Herzegovina on 8–15 September 1995 as part of the Bosnian War. Its objective was to create a security buffer between Croatia and positions held by the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and to put the largest Bosnian Serb-held city, Banja Luka, in jeopardy by capturing the towns of Jajce, Šipovo and Drvar. The combined HV and HVO forces were under the overall command of HV Major General Ante Gotovina.
The operation commenced during a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) air campaign against the VRS codenamed Operation Deliberate Force, targeting VRS air defences, artillery positions and storage facilities largely in the area of Sarajevo, but also elsewhere in the country. Days after commencement of the offensive, the VRS positions to the right and to the left of the HV and the HVO advance were also attacked by the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Armija Republike Bosne i Hercegovine – ARBiH) in Operation Sana. The offensive achieved its objectives and set the stage for further advances of the HV, HVO and ARBiH towards Banja Luka, contributing to the resolution of the war.
The offensive, together with Operation Sana, caused controversy among military analysts regarding the issue of whether NATO airstrikes or the two ground offensives contributed more towards the resolution of the Bosnian War, and to what extent ARBiH, HVO and HV advances were helped by, or conversely the VRS hampered by, NATO bombing. In 2011, five former Croatian military personnel were convicted of war crimes for the summary execution of five Bosnian Serb soldiers and an unknown civilian during the offensive.
|Operation Maestral 2|
|Part of the Bosnian War|
Objectives of Operation Maestral 2 () on the map of Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Commanders and leaders|
Croatian Defence Council
Police of Herzeg-Bosnia
|Army of Republika Srpska|
6 Guards brigades|
3 reserve brigades
6 Home Guard regiments
2 Guards battalions
1 motorised brigade|
5 infantry brigades
1 armoured battalion
|Casualties and losses|
Serb civilian casualties:|
655 civilians killed and 40,000–125,000 displaced (Serb claim)
20,000 civilians displaced (UN claim)
As the Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovenska narodna armija – JNA) withdrew from Croatia following the acceptance and start of implementation of the Vance plan, its 55,000 officers and soldiers born in Bosnia and Herzegovina were transferred to a new Bosnian Serb army, which was later renamed the Army of Republika Srpska (Vojska Republike Srpske – VRS). This re-organisation followed the declaration of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 9 January 1992, ahead of the referendum on the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina that took place between 29 February and 1 March 1992. This declaration would later be cited by the Bosnian Serbs as a pretext for the Bosnian War. Bosnian Serbs began fortifying the capital, Sarajevo, and other areas on 1 March 1992. On the following day, the first fatalities of the war were recorded in Sarajevo and Doboj. In the final days of March, Bosnian Serb forces bombarded Bosanski Brod with artillery, resulting in a cross-border operation by the Croatian Army (Hrvatska vojska – HV) 108th Brigade. On 4 April 1992, JNA artillery began shelling Sarajevo. There were other examples of the JNA directly supported the VRS, such as during the capture of Zvornik in early April 1992, when the JNA provided artillery support from Serbia, firing across the Drina River. At the same time, the JNA attempted to defuse the situation and arrange negotiations elsewhere in the country.
The JNA and the VRS in Bosnia and Herzegovina faced the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Armija Republike Bosne i Hercegovine – ARBiH) and the Croatian Defence Council (Hrvatsko vijeće obrane – HVO), reporting to the Bosniak-dominated central government and the Bosnian Croat leadership respectively, as well as the HV, which occasionally supported HVO operations. In late April 1992, the VRS was able to deploy 200,000 troops, hundreds of tanks, armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and artillery pieces. The HVO and the Croatian Defence Forces (Hrvatske obrambene snage – HOS) could field approximately 25,000 soldiers and a handful of heavy weapons, while the ARBiH was largely unprepared with nearly 100,000 troops, small arms for less than a half of their number and virtually no heavy weapons. Arming of the various forces was hampered by a United Nations (UN) arms embargo that had been introduced in September 1991. By mid-May 1992, when those JNA units which had not been transferred to the VRS withdrew from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the newly declared Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the VRS controlled approximately 60 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The extent of VRS control was extended to about 70 percent of the country by the end of 1992.
By 1995, the ARBiH and the HVO had developed into better-organised forces employing comparably large numbers of artillery pieces and good defensive fortifications. The VRS was not capable of penetrating their defences even where its forces employed sound military tactics, for instance in the Battle of Orašje in May and June 1995. After recapture of the bulk of the Republic of Serb Krajina (the Croatian Serb-controlled areas of Croatia) in Operation Storm in August 1995, the HV shifted its focus to western Bosnia and Herzegovina. The shift was motivated by a desire to create a security zone along the Croatian border, establish Croatia as a regional power and gain favours with the West by forcing an end to the Bosnian War. The government of Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed the move as it contributed to their goal of gaining control over western Bosnia and the city of Banja Luka—the largest city in the Bosnian Serb-held territory.
In the final days of August 1995, NATO launched Operation Deliberate Force—an air campaign targeting the VRS. This campaign was launched in response to the second Markale massacre of 28 August, which came on the heels of the Srebrenica massacre. Airstrikes began on 30 August, initially targeting VRS air defences, and striking targets near Sarajevo. The campaign was briefly suspended on 1 September and its scope was expanded to target artillery and storage facilities around the city. The bombing resumed on 5 September, and its scope extended to VRS air defences near Banja Luka by 9 September as NATO had nearly exhausted its list of targets near Sarajevo. On 13 September, the Bosnian Serbs accepted NATO's demand for the establishment of an exclusion zone around Sarajevo and the campaign ceased.
As the NATO bombing generally targeted VRS around Sarajevo, western Bosnia remained relatively calm following Operation Storm, except for probing attacks launched by the VRS, HVO or ARBiH near Bihać, Drvar and Glamoč. At the time the HV, HVO and ARBiH were planning a joint offensive in the region. The main portion of the offensive was codenamed Operation Maestral (Croatian name for maestro wind), or more accurately Operation Maestral 2. Within a month, the HV and HVO had planned an operation to capture the towns of Jajce, Šipovo and Drvar, and position their forces to threaten Banja Luka. Major General Ante Gotovina was placed in command of the combined HV and HVO forces earmarked for the offensive.
The forces were deployed in three groups. Operational Group (OG) North, tasked with capturing Šipovo and Jajce, consisted of 11,000 troops and included the best units available to Gotovina—the 4th Guards and the 7th Guards Brigades, the 1st Croatian Guards Brigade (1. hrvatski gardijski zdrug – 1st HGZ) of the HV and three HVO guards brigades. The rest of the force was organised into OG West and OG South, and consisted of five HV Home Guard regiments and three reserve infantry brigades. These two groups were to pin down the troops of the VRS 2nd Krajina Corps in the vicinity of Drvar, and attempt to advance on the town. Once OG North had completed its tasks, it was to turn back and capture Drvar. Gotovina's forces were deployed between the ARBiH 5th Corps on their left, and the 7th Corps on their right. The ARBiH forces were to advance on the flanks of the HV and the HVO, in a separate but coordinated offensive codenamed Operation Sana.
In the area of the combined HV and HVO offensive, the VRS had its 2nd Krajina Corps, commanded by Major General Radivoje Tomanić, and the 30th Infantry Division of the 1st Krajina Corps, commanded by Major General Momir Zec. Tomanić, who set up his headquarters in Drvar, was in overall command in western Bosnia. Tomanić and Zec commanded a combined force of approximately 22,000 troops. They considered the ARBiH to be a greater threat in the area and only deployed between 5,000 and 6,000 troops directly against the HV, consisting of one motorised and six infantry or light infantry brigades fielded along the frontline and one brigade in reserve.
The first stage of the offensive was planned to overcome VRS defences extending across mountains north of Glamoč, guarding southern approaches to Šipovo and Jajce. The attack was launched in the morning of 8 September. The 7th and the 4th Guards Brigades spearheaded the attack, striking towards the Mlinište Pass and Jastrebnjak Hill respectively. The first line of VRS defences was breached by 10:00, which allowed the 1st HGZ to push through the 4th Guards Brigade and outflank Mount Vitorog and the particularly strong VRS defences there. The 1st HGZ was quickly reinforced by the 60th Guards Battalion and the special police in attacks against the VRS positions on Vitorog. The farthest advance achieved on the initial day of the offensive was achieved by the 4th Guards Brigade, which advanced 5 kilometres (3.1 miles). The 7th Guards Brigade and the 1st HGZ advanced considerably less distance, while the supporting efforts of OG South and OG West launched that day against Drvar made little progress.
On 9 September, the HV and HVO defeated the bulk of the main VRS defences of the 3rd Serbian and 7th Motorised Brigades, achieving a key breakthrough. The 1st HGZ pushed back the VRS from Vitorog, and the 7th Guards Brigade advanced 8 kilometres (5.0 miles), capturing the Mlinište Pass, while the 4th Guards Brigade secured Jastrebnjak Hill. The next day, the HV and the HVO were only able to advance 2 kilometres (1.2 miles), as the VRS deployed a battalion of M-84 tanks detached from the 1st Armoured Brigade. At this point, the HV and the HVO had achieved the objectives of the first stage of the offensive. That day, the 7th Corps of the ARBiH launched its attack on the right flank of the HV and the HVO assault. It engaged VRS elements tenaciously defending Donji Vakuf.
On 11 September, OG North paused offensive operations while the 4th and 7th Guards Brigades moved into reserve. They were replaced with the 1st and the 2nd Guards Brigades of the HVO, which became the spearhead of OG North. A probing attack by the 2nd Guards Brigade achieved some gains towards Jajce along the rim of the Kupres Plateau. OGs South and West made another effort to capture Drvar, but were beaten back by VRS infantry supported by artillery and M-87 Orkan rockets.
The second stage of the offensive commenced on 12 September. Its objective was the capture of Šipovo and Jajce by OG North after it successfully breached the VRS defences north of Glamoč. As the 7th Motorised Brigade of the VRS was forced to withdraw from positions near Vitorog in order to defend Šipovo, the rapid advance of the HV and the HVO meant the VRS could not consolidate a defensive line. On the same day, the HV deployed three Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunship sorties against VRS armour and artillery, and the HVO 1st Guards Brigade was able to reach Šipovo and capture the town. Its advance was also supported by the 1st HGZ, which advanced to outflank the VRS near Šipovo. The assault was also supported by the 60th Guards Battalion, the General Staff Reconnaissance Sabotage Company, heavy artillery and multiple rocket launchers. As the VRS positions around Šipovo began to give way, the 2nd Guards Brigade advanced against Jajce, reaching a point within 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) south of the town by the end of the day. Its advance was supported by the 22nd Sabotage Detachment and the special police.
On 13 September, as the 2nd Guards Brigade was approaching Jajce, the VRS withdrew from Donji Vakuf to avoid being surrounded, and the ARBiH captured the town. The 5th Corps of the ARBiH, on the left flank of the HV and HVO offensive, began its assault against the VRS 2nd Krajina Corps, moving south from Bihać towards Bosanski Petrovac. The HV 81st Guards Battalion was inserted into the operation to support the HVO exploitation forces, and when it approached Mrkonjić Grad it clashed with the VRS 7th Motorised Brigade defending the town. By the end of the day the 2nd Guards Brigade had reached Jajce. The civilian population of Jajce was evacuated when its capture appeared imminent. The 2nd Guards Brigade entered the deserted town, recapturing the townwhich had been lost to the VRS in Operation Vrbas '92, nearly three years before. Its capture prevented the 7th Corps of the ARBiH from advancing any further as its frontline facing the VRS all but disappeared. The 7th Corps then detached a substantial part of its force and sent them as reinforcements to the 5th Corps.
The third stage of the operation centred on the capture of Drvar, the secondary objective of the overall offensive. VRS defences around the town held until 14 September, when Gotovina detached a reinforced battalion from the 7th Guards Brigade held in the reserve of OG North and deployed it against Drvar. A renewed push by OGs West and South, combined with a rapid advance by the ARBiH 5th Corps against Bosanski Petrovac threatened to isolate Drvar, and the VRS withdrew from the town.
The ARBiH 5th Corps captured Kulen Vakuf on 14 September, and Bosanski Petrovac the next day. It linked up with HV forces at the Oštrelj Pass, 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) southeast of the town on the road to Drvar. The link-up was not smooth, as a friendly fire incident occurred, resulting in casualties.
The combined HV and HVO force penetrated VRS defences by up to 30 kilometres (19 miles) capturing 2,500 square kilometres (970 square miles), and demonstrating the improved skill of HV planners. More significantly, Operation Mistral 2, as well as Operation Sana, as the first in a string of offensives launched shortly before the end of the Bosnian War, were crucial in applying pressure on the Bosnian Serbs. They also set the stage for further HV and HVO advances in Operation Southern Move.
The Central Intelligence Agency analysed the effects of Operation Deliberate Force and Operations Maestral 2 and Sana, and noted that the NATO air campaign did not degrade VRS combat capability as much as was expected, because the airstrikes were never primarily directed at field-deployed units but at command and control infrastructure. This analysis noted that, while the NATO air campaign did degrade VRS capabilities, the final offensives by the HV, HVO and the ARBiH did the most damage. The analysis further concluded that the ground offensives, rather than the NATO bombardment, were responsible for bringing the Bosnian Serbs to the negotiation table and the war to its end. However, author Robert C. Owen argues that the HV would not have advanced as rapidly as it did had NATO not intervened and hampered the VRS defence by denying it long-range communications.
Operation Mistral 2, along with the near-concurrent Operation Sana, created a large number of refugees from the areas previously controlled by the VRS. Their number was variously reported and the estimates range from 655 killed civilians and 125,000 refugees, reported by Radio-Television Republika Srpska in 2010, to approximately 40,000 refugees reported in 1995—both by Bosnian Serb sources. The latter figure was reported to encompass the entire contemporary populations of the towns of Jajce, Šipovo, Mrkonjić Grad and Donji Vakuf fleeing or being evacuated. At the time, the UN spokesman in Sarajevo estimated the number of refugees at 20,000. The refugees fled to VRS-controlled areas around Brčko and Banja Luka, adding to the 50,000 refugees who had been sheltering in Banja Luka since Operation Storm.
During the Trial of Gotovina et al before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Reynaud Theunens compared Operations Mistral 2 and Storm in his capacity as an expert witness for the prosecution. Theunens pointed out that civilian property and infrastructure at less risk in the aftermath of Operation Mistral 2, as Gotovina had issued much more strict orders in that respect, establishing companies specifically tasked with security and imposing a curfew in Jajce. The HV and the HVO sustained losses of 74 killed and 226 wounded in the operation.
In 2007, Croatian authorities received information that the commanding officer of the 7th Guards Brigade, Brigadier Ivan Korade, had ordered the killing of VRS prisoners of war during the offensive. Charges of war crimes were brought against seven soldiers of the brigade, specifying that they executed Korade's orders to kill one VRS prisoner and one unknown man in the village of Halapić near Glamoč, and four VRS prisoners in the village of Mlinište. Five defendants were convicted and the remaining two acquitted in October 2011. Two of them were sentenced to six years in prison, one of them to five years and the remaining two to two years' imprisonment. Korade was never tried, as he committed suicide following a standoff with police officers who sought to apprehend him in relation to a quadruple murder committed in late March 2008.
The 1st Croatian Guards Corps (Croatian: 1. hrvatski gardijski zbor) was a special formation of the Croatian Army (Hrvatska vojska – HV) directly subordinated to the Ministry of Defence rather than the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia and reporting directly to the President of Croatia. The corps was established in 1994 by the amalgamation of various HV special forces. The 2,500-strong unit was organised into the 1st Croatian Guards Brigade (1. hrvatski gardijski zdrug – HGZ), a multi-purpose special forces combat unit, and four battalions tasked with ensuring the security of the President of Croatia and carrying out ceremonial duties. The HGZ took part in a number of military operations during the Croatian War of Independence and the Bosnian War. It was disbanded in 2000, when its components were amalgamated with other HV units to form the Special Operations Battalion, the 350th Military Intelligence Battalion, and the Honour Guard Battalion.Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia
The Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia was signed by Alija Izetbegović, President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Franjo Tuđman, President of the Republic of Croatia, in Zagreb on 21 July 1992 during the Bosnian and Croatian wars for independence from Yugoslavia. It established cooperation, albeit inharmonious, between the two and served as a basis for joint defense against Serb forces. It also placed the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) under the command of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH).
Izetbegović, who had hoped to prevent Bosnia Herzegovina from falling under the influence of Croatia or Serbia, signed the agreement after Stjepan Kljuić, president of the Croatian Democratic Union's (HDZ) branch in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was replaced by Tuđman with Mate Boban, who blocked the delivery of supplies to Sarajevo where a siege was under way and had proclaimed an independent Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia (HR-HB). The agreement fell apart in October after a number of events including the assassination of Blaž Kraljević, leader of Croatian Defence Forces (HOS) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the fall of the areas of Posavina, Bosanski Brod, and Jajce into the hands of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), and after a major battle broke out between the HVO and the ARBiH in Prozor.Ante Gotovina
Ante Gotovina (born 12 October 1955) is a Croatian retired lieutenant general and former French senior corporal who served in the Croatian War for Independence. He is noted for his primary role in the 1995 Operation Storm. In 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indicted him on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges in connection with that operation and its aftermath. After spending four years in hiding, he was captured in the Canary Islands in December 2005.
On 16 November 2012, Gotovina's convictions were overturned by an appeals panel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and he was released from custody.Ante Kotromanović
Ante Kotromanović (pronounced [ǎːnte kotromǎːnoʋitɕ]; born 8 May 1968) is Croatian politician and army officer who served as Defense Minister of Croatia from December 2011 until January 2016.Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnian: Armija Republike Bosne i Hercegovine or ARBiH), often referred to as Bosnian Army, was the military force of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina established by the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 following the outbreak of the Bosnian War. Following the end of the war, and the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995, it was transformed into the Army of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ARBiH was the only military force on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognised as legal by other governments. Under the State Defense Reform Law the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina were unified into a single structure, the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (OSBiH), making entity armies defunct.Croatian Air Force and Air Defence
The Croatian Air Force (Croatian: Hrvatsko ratno zrakoplovstvo or HRZ) is a branch of the Croatian Armed Forces whose primary task is to ensure the sovereignty of the airspace of the Republic of Croatia and to provide aviation support to other branches in the implementation of their tasks in joint operations. It is also the carrier and the organiser of the integrated anti-aircraft defence system of the Republic of Croatia.Ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian War
Widespread ethnic cleansing accompanied the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992–95), as large numbers of Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Bosnian Croats were forced to flee their homes and were expelled by Bosnian Serbs; some Bosnian Croats also carried out similar campaign against Bosniaks and Serbs. Also, Bosnian Muslims conducted similar acts against Croats in Central Bosnia and against Serbs in the Operation Sana Beginning in 1991, political upheavals in the Balkans displaced about 2,700,000 people by mid-1992, of which over 700,000 of them sought asylum in other European countries.The methods used during the Bosnian ethnic cleansing campaigns included "murder, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, extra-judicial executions, rape and sexual assaults, confinement of civilian population in ghetto areas, forcible removal, displacement and deportation of civilian population, deliberate military attacks or threats of attacks on civilians and civilian areas, and wanton destruction of property".Grabovica massacre
The Grabovica massacre refers to the murders of at least 13 ethnic Croat inhabitants of the village of Grabovica near Jablanica by members of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) 9th Brigade and other unidentified members of ARBiH on 8 or 9 September 1993. Some sources cite a higher number of victims but these have never been officially corroborated.Ivan Korade
Ivan Korade (17 December 1963 – 3 April 2008) was a Croatian Army general famous for his role in the Croatian War of Independence. Korade's long history of violent behaviour resulted in forced retirement in 1997 and culminated in a 2008 shooting spree in which he murdered five people before committing suicide.Jajce
Jajce is a city and municipality located in Central Bosnia Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As of 2013, it has a population of 30,758 inhabitants. It is situated in the region of Bosanska Krajina, on the crossroads between Banja Luka, Mrkonjić Grad and Donji Vakuf, on the confluence of the rivers Pliva and Vrbas.Military history of Croatia
The military history of Croatia encompasses wars, battles and all military actions fought on the territory of modern Croatia and the military history of the Croat people regardless of political geography.Mistral
Mistral may refer to:
Mistral (wind) in southern France and SardiniaOperation Deliberate Force
Operation Deliberate Force was a sustained air campaign conducted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), in concert with the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) ground operations, to undermine the military capability of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), which had threatened and attacked UN-designated "safe areas" in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War with the Srebrenica and Markale massacres, precipitating the intervention. The shelling of the Sarajevo market place on 28 August 1995 by the Bosnian Serb army is considered to be the immediate instigating factor behind NATO's decision to launch the operation.The operation was carried out between 30 August and 20 September 1995, involving 400 aircraft and 5,000 personnel from 15 nations. Commanded by Admiral Leighton W. Smith Jr., the campaign struck 338 Bosnian Serb targets, many of which were destroyed. Overall, 1,026 bombs were dropped during the operation, 708 of which were precision-guided.
The bombing campaign was also roughly conterminous in time with Operation Mistral 2, two linked military offensives of the Croatian Army (HV), the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH), and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) launched in western Bosnia.Operation Storm
Operation Storm (Serbo-Croatian: Operacija Oluja / Операција Олуја) was the last major battle of the Croatian War of Independence and a major factor in the outcome of the Bosnian War. It was a decisive victory for the Croatian Army (HV), which attacked across a 630-kilometre (390 mi) front against the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK), and a strategic victory for the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH).
The HV was supported by the Croatian special police advancing from the Velebit Mountain, and the ARBiH located in the Bihać pocket, in the Army of the Republic of Serb Krajina's (ARSK) rear. The battle, launched to restore Croatian control of 10,400 square kilometres (4,000 square miles) of territory, representing 18.4% of the territory it claimed, and Bosnian control of Western Bosnia, was the largest European land battle since the Second World War. Operation Storm commenced at dawn on 4 August 1995 and was declared complete on the evening of 7 August, despite significant mopping-up operations against pockets of resistance lasting until 14 August.
Operation Storm was a strategic victory in the Bosnian War, effectively ending the siege of Bihać and placing the HV, Croatian Defence Council (HVO) and the ARBiH in a position to change the military balance of power in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the subsequent Operation Mistral 2. The operation built on HV and HVO advances made during Operation Summer '95, when strategic positions allowing the rapid capture of the RSK capital Knin were gained, and on the continued arming and training of the HV since the beginning of the Croatian War of Independence, when the RSK was created during the Serb Log revolution and Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) intervention. The operation itself followed an unsuccessful United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission and diplomatic efforts to settle the conflict.
The HV's and ARBiH's strategic success was a result of a series of improvements to the armies themselves, and crucial breakthroughs made in the ARSK positions that were subsequently exploited by the HV and the ARBiH. The attack was not immediately successful at all points, but seizing key positions led to the collapse of the ARSK command structure and overall defensive capability. The HV capture of Bosansko Grahovo just before Operation Storm, and the special police's advance to Gračac, made it nearly impossible to defend Knin. In Lika, two guard brigades quickly cut the ARSK-held area (which lacked tactical depth and mobile reserve forces), isolating pockets of resistance, positioning a mobile force for a decisive northward thrust into the Karlovac Corps area of responsibility (AOR), and pushing ARSK towards Banovina. The defeat of the ARSK at Glina and Petrinja, after a tough defence, defeated the ARSK Banija Corps as well, as its reserve was pinned down by the ARBiH. The RSK relied on the Republika Srpska and Yugoslav militaries as its strategic reserve, but they did not intervene in the battle.
The HV and the special police suffered 174–211 killed or missing, while the ARSK had 560 soldiers killed. Four UN peacekeepers were also killed. The HV captured 4,000 prisoners of war. The number of Serb civilian deaths is disputed—Croatia claims that 214 were killed, while Serbian sources cite 1,192 civilians killed or missing. During and after the offensive, 150,000–200,000 Serbs—or nearly the entire Serb population of the area formerly held by the ARSK—fled and a variety of crimes were committed against the remaining civilians there. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) later tried three Croatian generals charged with war crimes and partaking in a joint criminal enterprise designed to force the Serb population out of Croatia, although all three were ultimately acquitted and the tribunal refuted charges of a criminal enterprise.
In 2010, Serbia sued Croatia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), claiming that the offensive constituted a genocide. In 2015, the court ruled that it was not genocidal, and it affirmed that the Serb population fled as a direct result of the offensive, although ruling that Croatia did not have the specific intent to displace the country's Serb minority, nor was it found that ethnic cleansing or civilian targeting took place. However, it was found that crimes against civilians had been committed by Croatian forces. As of November 2012, the Croatian judiciary has convicted 2,380 persons for various crimes committed during Operation Storm.Operation Tiger (1994)
Operation Tiger 94 (Bosnian: Operacija Tigar 94 or Operacija Tigar-Sloboda 94) was a military action in the summer of 1994, by the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) against the Bosnian autonomous zone of the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, its leader Fikret Abdić and his Serbian backers the Army of the Republic of Serb Krajina (SVK), and the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS). The battle was a huge success for the ARBiH, which was able to rout Abdić's forces and occupy the territory of Western Bosnia. Fikret Abdić was able to recapture the territory in December 1994 in Operation Spider.Operation Vrbas '92
Operation Vrbas '92 (Serbian: Операција Врбас '92) was a military offensive undertaken by the Army of Republika Srpska (Vojska Republike Srpske – VRS) in June–October 1992, during the Bosnian War. The goal of the operation was the destruction of a salient around the central Bosnian town of Jajce, which was held by the Croatian Defence Council (Hrvatsko vijeće obrane – HVO) and the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Armija Republike Bosne i Hercegovine – ARBiH). The intensity of fighting varied considerably and involved several major VRS offensive efforts interspersed by relative lulls in fighting. Jajce fell to the VRS on 29 October 1992, and the town's capture was followed by the destruction of all its mosques and Roman Catholic churches.
The fighting improved the safety of VRS lines of communication south of the Bosnian Serb capital of Banja Luka, and displaced between 30,000 and 40,000 people, in what foreign observers called "the largest and most wretched single exodus" of the Bosnian War. The ARBiH and HVO in Jajce were not only outnumbered and outgunned, but their units were also plagued by inadequate staff work, compounded by lack of coordination between separate command and control structures maintained by the two forces throughout the battle. The defence of Jajce also suffered from worsening Croat–Bosniak relations and skirmishes between the ARBiH and the HVO along the resupply route to Jajce. Ultimately, the outcome of the battle itself fueled greater Bosniak–Croat animosities, which eventually led to the Croat–Bosniak War. The VRS saw the cracking of the ARBiH–HVO alliance as a very significant outcome of the operation.Split Agreement
The Split Agreement or Split Declaration (Bosnian and Croatian: Splitski sporazum or Splitska deklaracija) was a mutual defence agreement between Croatia, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, signed in Split, Croatia on 22 July 1995. It called on the Croatian Army (HV) to intervene militarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina, primarily in relieving the siege of Bihać.
The Split Agreement was a turning point in the Bosnian War as well as an important factor in the Croatian War of Independence. It led to a large-scale deployment of the HV in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the capture of strategic positions in Operation Summer '95. This in turn allowed the quick capture of Knin, the capital of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK), and the lifting of the siege of Bihać soon thereafter, during Operation Storm. Subsequent HV offensives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supported by the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), as well as NATO air campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina, shifted the military balance in the Bosnian War, contributing to the start of peace talks, leading to the Dayton Agreement.Trnopolje camp
The Trnopolje camp was an internment camp established by Bosnian Serb military and police authorities in the village of Trnopolje near Prijedor in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the first months of the Bosnian War. Also variously termed a concentration camp, detainment camp, detention camp, prison, and ghetto, Trnopolje held between 4,000 and 7,000 Bosniak and Bosnian Croat inmates at any one time and served as a staging area for mass deportations, mainly of women, children, and elderly men. Between May and November 1992, an estimated 30,000 inmates passed through. Mistreatment was widespread and there were numerous instances of torture, rape, and killing; ninety inmates died.
In August, the existence of the Prijedor camps was discovered by the Western media, leading to their closure. Trnopolje was transferred into the hands of the International Red Cross (IRC) in mid-August, and closed in November 1992. After the war, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted several Bosnian Serb officials of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their roles in the camp, but ruled that the abuses perpetrated in Prijedor did not constitute genocide. Crimes in Trnopolje were also listed in the ICTY's indictment of former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, who died mid-trial in March 2006.Čelebići camp
The Čelebići camp was a prison camp run by Bosniak and Bosnian Croat forces during the Bosnian War. It was used by several units of the Bosnian Ministry of the Interior (MUP), Croatian Defence Council (HVO) and later the Bosnian Territorial Defence Forces (TO). The camp was located in Čelebići, a village in the central Bosnian municipality of Konjic.The camp, operational from May to December 1992, was used to detain Bosnian Serb prisoners of war, most of whom were civilians arrested during military operations that were intended to de-block routes to Sarajevo and Mostar in May 1992 that had earlier been blocked by Serb forces. The exact number of prisoners that were held at the camp is unknown but estimates range between 400 and 700.Detainees at the camp were subjected to torture, sexual assaults, beatings and otherwise cruel and inhuman treatment. Certain prisoners were shot and killed or beaten to death. Investigators believe that as many as 30 died while in captivity. However, the ICTY's indictment only listed the deaths of 13 people.Hazim Delić, Esad Landžo, Zejnil Delalić and Zdravko Mucić were indicted for their roles in the crimes committed at the camp. All were found guilty, except for Delalić. In reaching its decision, the ICTY made a landmark judgement by qualifying rape as a form of torture, the first such judgement by an international criminal tribunal.
|North||4th Guards Brigade||HV units, under direct command of Major General Ante Gotovina; The 81st Battalion not deployed initially|
|7th Guards Brigade|
|1st Croatian Guards Brigade|
|General Staff Reconnaissance Sabotage Company|
|81st Guards Battalion|
|1st Guards Brigade||HVO units, under command of Brigadier Željko Glasnović|
|2nd Guards Brigade|
|3rd Guards Brigade|
|60th Guards Airborne Battalion|
|22nd Sabotage Detachment|
|Special police of the Ministry of Interior of Herzeg-Bosnia|
|South||6th Home Guard Regiment||HV units, under command of Brigadier Ante Kotromanović|
|126th Home Guard Regiment|
|141st Infantry Brigade|
|West||7th Home Guard Regiment||HV units, under command of Brigadier Mladen Fuzul|
|15th Home Guard Regiment|
|134th Home Guard Regiment|
|142nd Home Guard Regiment|
|112th Infantry Brigade|
|113th Infantry Brigade|
|Drvar||1st Drvar Light Infantry Brigade||South and southwestern approaches to Drvar|
|1st Drina Light Infantry Brigade||Southeastern approaches to Drvar; Units formed from elements drawn from most of the Drina Corps brigades and deployed to western Bosnia as reinforcements|
|2nd Drina Light Infantry Brigade|
|3rd Drina Light Infantry Brigade|
|9th Grahovo Light Infantry Brigade||Remnants only; The bulk of the brigade had been destroyed in Operation Summer '95|
|Mlinište–Vitorog||3rd Serbian Brigade||Reinforced brigade|
|7th Kupres-Šipovo Motorised Brigade||Augmented by elements of the 30th Division|
|1st Armoured Brigade||One battalion only; Not initially deployed|
Part of the Yugoslav Wars