US accused of aiding Bosnian forces

The United States has been providing intelligence assistance and other support to the mainly Muslim Bosnian government forces even before yesterday's announcement that Washington would no longer enforce the international arms embargo against Bosnia-Herzegovina, according to United Nations and British sources.

Bosnian and Croatian government sources said that they were expecting the imminent arrival of an American military delegation led by retired US general John Galvin, the former supreme commander of Nato forces in Europe.

They said that the delegation would help to unite Bosnian Muslim and Croat forces under the terms of a US-brokered agreement creating a Muslim-Croat federation.

However, both the US State Department and the Pentagon have denied any official sanction for such a mission and have suggested that, if reports about it were true, it was a private initiative.

UN military officials in Sarajevo say that the Americans are already helping the Bosnians, and they provided Muslim military commanders with intelligence and aerial photographs of Bosnian Serb troop dispositions around the north-western city of Bihac at about the same time as the Muslims launched their offensive two weeks ago.

UN military sources and a senior British diplomat have also said that they have heard reports that retired American soldiers were helping to train the Bosnian Muslims. Similar allegations have also been made by French officials.

There have been suggestions by some senior UN civilian officials that British and French UN military officers in Bosnia have been spreading misleading reports about covert US activites in Bosnia to undermine Washington's authority in the debate on the former Yugoslavia. Many UN officials fear any attempts to bolster the Muslims will prolong the war and ruin efforts to find a peaceful solution.

Both the British and the French are opposed to any American moves to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia-Herzegovina and have resisted US-led efforts for tougher Nato air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs for violations of UN resolutions.

President Bill Clinton yesterday ordered three US ships and several spotter planes to pull out of the Bosnia embargo operation at midnight tonight despite criticism from his European allies.

The French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, telephoned the US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, to voice dismay at the action. According to the Foreign Ministry, he ``conveyed the French government's deep worries about this unilateral decision, which we can only regret''.

US defence officials said yesterday's order may have little practical effect because, out of 42,000 ships challenged by the allies and 3,200 boarded since the embargo took effect in November 1992, only three were carrying arms for Bosnia.

``They must be getting arms some other way,'' a senior US military official said.

The Nato Secretary-General, Willy Claes, said in Brussels: ``I would like to make clear . . . that Nato will continue to enforce fully and totally all UN Security Council resolutions which form the basis of our involvement in former Yugoslavia.''

At the Bosnian Serb headquarters in Pale, the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, said the US decision to stop enforcing the embargo revealed Washington's sympathies in the conflict.

``Now it's clear that America has taken a more sincere position. Although this is going to cause a deterioration of the military situation in Bosnia, we welcome the frankness of America,'' he said.

The Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, who earlier said he was worried by the step, said last night he had talked to Mr Christopher and was ``reassured''. He said: ``We have to take this a step at a time and see what happens on the ground but I feel more confident about it than I did this morning. I am pretty sure our troops will remain through the winter and it is important they do so.''

Bosnia's UN ambassador, Muhamed Sacirbey, said the decision was a signal for nations to break the ban and sell weapons to Sarajevo. ``It will encourage countries that may in the past have been reluctant to give us the means to defend ourselves . . . I am hopeful that we will see almost a campaign of civil disobedience,'' he said.

Allies divided, page 10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .Net Developer

£23000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: C# .Net Develop re...

Electronics Design Engineer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: My client are l...

Senior BI Engineer (BI/MI, Data Mining)

£60000 - £65000 per annum + Bonus & Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior BI Enginee...

IT Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a teacher o...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor