War In Europe: Countdown to the chaos of war

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Indy Lifestyle Online
13 October 1998 US envoy Richard Holbrooke outlines deal to avert air strikes against Yugoslavia after a series of massacres against Kosovan Albanians; Nato gives President Slobodan Milosevic four days to end offensive.

26 October Serbian forces withdraw hours before the (extended) Nato deadline.

24 December Kosovo's crumbling truce collapses after renewed fighting.

16 January 1999 The bodies of 45 ethnic Albanians are discovered at Racak in southern Kosovo. Washington calls an urgent Nato meeting, reviving the threat of air strikes.

29 January Six-nation Contact Group, comprising France, Germany, America, Italy, Britain and Russia, summons Serbs and ethnic Albanians to attend peace talks.

6 February Peace talks begin in Rambouillet, near Paris.

19 February Milosevic declares "We will not give up Kosovo, even if we are bombed."

23 February Agreement at Rambouillet reached on autonomy for Kosovo but Serbs refuse the presence of a Nato-led peace-keeping force, and the Albanians demand a future referendum on independence. Implementation conference to be held from 15 March.

27 February Serb troops deployed throughout Kosovo; sporadic fighting in the north.

15 March Implementation conference begins in Paris.

17 March Forensic report on the Racak massacre calls it a "crime against humanity" but refuses to blame the Serbs.

18 March Kosovo Albanians sign the Paris peace deal but Yugoslavia boycotts the event.

19 March Contact Group adjourns peace talks.

22 March Holbrooke dispatched to Belgrade to deliver the "final warning" to Milosevic.

23 March Holbrooke declares the talks failed. The way is open for Nato air strikes.

24 March Nato launches bombing campaign against military targets in Yugoslavia. Russia and China denounce air strikes. Yugoslavia declares state of war.

25 March Yugoslavia breaks off diplomatic relations with the US, France, Germany and Britain. Violent protests at Nato-member embassies and offices in Macedonia and Bosnia. Western journalists expelled from Yugoslavia.

26 March First daylight attacks launched. Serb operations against ethnic Albanians show no signs of diminishing. Two Yugoslav MiG-29s shot down as they attempt to strike Nato-led peace-keeping troops in Bosnia. Strains show in the Nato alliance: Italy urges the bombing be kept brief and Greece says it should stop.

27 March Nato warplanes launch their biggest raids shifting the focus to Serb units in Kosovo, as well as targets in and around Belgrade. Unconfirmed reports of anarchy. Serb paramilitary gangs kill several hundred ethnic Albanians in Djakovica overnight.

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