Serbs and Croats unite to drive Muslims back: Christopher Bellamy reports from Vitez on the new allies' latest attacks and successes in Bosnia

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The Independent Online
THE LATEST Bosnian Serb attack on the critical Posavina corridor in the north-east of the country has led to heavy casualties among the Muslim-led Bosnian national army (BiH), according to UN sources.

The Posavina corridor, down to 1,500m (1,600 yards) at its narrowest point, links the two Serbian-controlled areas of Bosnia and the Serbs have been desperate to widen it for months. In an attempt to create a second corridor they launched an attack which cut off the former 'Maglaj finger' at the end of last month, but so far have been unable to push south-east and amputate the 'Tuzla hand'.

Last night it emerged that the BiH had been squeezed into a smaller pocket in the northern tip of what was the Maglaj finger as the Bosnian Serb army had established a further corridor to the north of the belt seized by the Bosnian Croat HVO in collusion with the Serbs last week. The BiH retains hold of Maglaj but now appears to be surrounded by the HVO to the south and a Serbian force to the north. The BiH are squeezed into a pocket around and to the north of Tesanj.

BiH sources also said they were expecting a new, large Serbian attack in the Brcko area last night, underscoring the cardinal significance of the Posavina corridor. Creating a second supply route in the Maglaj area, the Serbs have been working openly in co-operation with the Croats and the operation which has isolated Maglaj has been controlled from a joint Serb-Croat headquarters north of Zavidovici.

Although the BiH has been badly hit by the joint Serb-Croat offensive they remain strong elsewhere. The BiH has been bombarding Fojnica, near the United Nations headquarters at Kiseljak and ironically dubbed a 'haven of peace' by the departing commander of UN forces, Lieutenant-General Philippe Morillon.

Between 7.30pm and 9.00pm on Wednesday, 45 artillery rounds landed, assumed to be from the BiH - a large number by its standards.

The long-awaited Muslim attack on the Vitez area, where the British Bosnian contingent is based, has failed to materialise. But a BiH advance to the west is expected in the next few days.

BELGRADE - Doctors treating the jailed Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic said yesterday that he was near death after a week of hunger strike, AP reports. 'It's a matter of hours. Our responsibility stops with this letter. It's your turn to decide urgently,' said a letter by the medical team treating him in the main Belgrade hospital, sent to the office of the Belgrade District Court judge.

Mr Draskovic heads the Serbian Renewal Movement. He and his wife, Danica, were arrested on 1 June after a violent anti-government protest in which one policeman died and 28 people were injured. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of obstructing police and participating in a violent demonstration.

The couple were reportedly badly beaten in custody and later transferred to the hospital, where they remain under heavy police guard. Mr Draskovic went on hunger strike last Thursday to protest against his detention.

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