Clinton warns that US airmen could die

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT CLINTON yesterday issued a stern warning to the Bosnian Serbs that the Nato threat of air strikes remains in force, and he warned the American people to prepare for possible losses of US servicemen if they go into action. 'The fact is there is no such thing as a mission completely without risk, and losses may occur,' he said.

Hundreds of Russian peace-keeping troops were heading from Croatia to Sarajevo by road yesterday. While the Russian initiative to persuade the Bosnian Serbs to comply with the Nato ultimatum has brought some relief to Washington, there is clearly a strong contingent within the President's entourage who are now almost anxious to punish the Serbs with air strikes unless the exclusion zone is absolutely cleared of weapons.

The American threat contrasted strongly with the view of the UN. Not even the snowstorm sweeping Sarajevo yesterday could dampen the enthusiasm of the UN commander, General Sir Michael Rose, who was confident the withdrawal would be completed in time.

The Bosnian vice-president, Ejup Ganic, accused Serb forces and the UN of conspiring to circumvent the Nato deadline. But General Rose was firm in his response. 'To say that the weapons will be fired on the city is to ignore the fact that they are now under our control, and it's irrelevant where they happen to be located,' he said.

Bosnia crisis, pages 14-15