Nato jets blast Serb air base in Croatia

RAF and French aircraft spearhead big air strike in retaliation for att acks on Bihac

Nato launched by far the biggest air attack in its 45-year history against the rebel Serbs' Udbina airbase in Croatia at noon yesterday. The strike by 30 aircraft from the US, Britain, France and the Netherlands was the first against Serbs in Croatia and dwarfed earlier attacks against the Bosnian Serbs.

Reconnaissance flights before dark last night showed the single runway cut in five places.

On Saturday, after Serb jets from Udbina bombed the Muslim-controlled Bihac enclave for the second consecutive day, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorising Nato to strike the airport in the Serb-held Krajina enclave.

Although four nations were involved in yesterday's raid, the British and French dropped all the bombs. Nato sources said they had aimed to cut the runway and taxi-ways and not to attack the 20 or so Serb aircraft at the airfield.

Malcolm Rifkind, Secretary of State for Defence, told the Commons the UN Special Representative, Yasushi Akashi, had requested the strike.

Later, Nato said 50 aircraft had been involved - 30 in the attack itself and 20 in support. Two British Jaguar strike aircraft and two reconnaissance aircraft, plus a Tristar tanker, took part in the mission.

Bosnian Serbs, Serbs from Krajina and breakaway Bosnian Muslims under the rebel leader Fikret Abdic are all converging in a three-pronged offensive on the isolated Bosnian government enclave which is a UN ``safe area''.

Mr Akashi said: ``I hope that today's Nato air attack will deter any further attack on the Bihac safe area and its surroundings, or on Unprofor personnel within Bihac. We're in a very sensitive and delicate situation. If we don't act, the UN could be considered incompetent and spineless.'' Mr Akashi, who spoke by telephone to Milan Martic, the Krajina Serb leader, after the Nato raid, reported that Mr Martic said he would ``do his utmost to restrain any emotional reaction''.

The British government acceded to international pressure for reprisals against the Serbs after hectic consultations over the weekend in which the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, authorised Britain's envoy to the UN, Sir David Hannay, to back the Security Council resolution.

But British policy has not been altered in favour of greater military intervention in the former Yugoslavia. The Bihac battle was seen in London as a useful opportunity for concerted action to show that the United States and its European allies could still act in unison after their recent dispute over the UN arms embargo.

President Bill Clinton voiced his support for the air strikes yesterday, telling reporters in Washington that it was ``the right thing to do''.

Speaking shortly after talks in the White House with Mr Clinton, the Nato Secretary-General, Willy Claes, said the Nato mission was ``absolutely necessary to give a clear and a strong signal''.

Officials in London were at pains to point out the limited aims and carefully designated nature of the raid. It was privately agreed between Britain and France that the action would serve a mainly symbolic purpose. Both nations are reviewing their commitment to the UN peace-keeping force in the former Yugoslavia after the US unilaterally decided it would no longer enforce the UN ban on arms shipments to the Bosnian government.

The raid also brought support from Russia, which condemned the American arms embargo policy but approved of the raid because of its strictly defined objective.

Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose, now the commander of UN forces in Bosnia, received the Queen's Gallantry Medal in recognition of his role in the May 1980 Iranian embassy siege, when he commanded the SAS. The Ministry of Defence did not announce the award until

yesterday.

(Map omitted)

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Middleware Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Java Developer/Designer

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

Domino Developer and Administrator

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Domino ...

Systems Build Engineer (Development) - Peterborough

£35000 - £45000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?