US jets may escort relief

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The Independent Online
DESPITE President Bill Clinton's unwillingness to involve American forces in the Bosnian war, US experts are urging the administration to allow American

F-16 jets to escort relief flights into Sarajevo, as well as aircraft that would drop aid by parachute to surrounded Muslim towns, writes Robert Fisk. They also recommend that Washington allow US pilots to attack any ground artillery that may be 'threatening' UN relief flights, even guns firing across Sarajevo airport that are not targeting the planes.

Jets accompanying parachute drops would be under the same instructions, allowing them, in effect, to attack Serbian gun positions around Muslim towns that have been under siege for 10 months. If adopted, the tactics would be presented as an essential element of US support for the UN relief mission in Bosnia- Herzegovina. But they would serve to provide the anti-Serbian response that many Muslims, and America's Arab allies, have been seeking. 'Gallant Provider' is being considered as a name for the mission.

'We're not going to war with Serbia,' said one of the Americans who has drawn up the recommendations. 'And we don't think ground troops should be committed, unless as part of a UN force. But this would give us the power to take action against the Serbs if we wanted to.'