Weapons flow into Balkans

Croat victory/ Belgrade the key
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The Independent Online
LAST week's rocket attacks on Zagreb showed again that despite the arms embargo on all countries of former Yugoslavia, there is no shortage of weapons - some highly sophisticated, writes Christopher Bellamy.

Most of the weaponry in use in the Bosnian civil war and in the recent fighting in Croatia was inherited from the Yugoslav army and air force, including the 12-barrelled Orkan rocket launchers that hit Zagreb from Serb positions 30 miles away. Local industry has been maintaining old weapons, and new weaponry has been getting in from former Warsaw Pact countries, and the Middle East.

Last week's pincer movement to cut off Serbs in western Slavonia was the Croatian Army's biggest operation for nearly four years. In that time the 100,000- strong Croatian forces have been reorganised and equipped with refurbished weapons. The main acquisitions have been old MiG-21 fighter jets, which cost about $1m each, and Mi-24 attack helicopters. It is widely believed the MiGs were brought in on trucks in pieces from Eastern Europe.

Croatia is also the principal conduit for arms supplies to the Croat and Muslim forces allied against the Serbs in Bosnia. It is likely that weapons sent to the Bosnian Muslim forces are paid for by well-wishers in the Middle East.

The Bosnian Serbs inherited most of the heavy weaponry from the former Yugoslav Army and until last year received constant support from Serbia.