Zagreb puts offensives on hold

CHRISTOPHER BELLAMY

Defence Correspondent

The Croatian attack on Serb positions north of Dubrovnik and Bosnian Croat advances in western Bosnia around the town of Drvar appeared to have been put on hold yesterday, although the Dubrovnik operation may only have been postponed.

"Our assessment is that they are battle-ready and could strike at any time", said Major Don Roy, a UN military spokesman.

It looks as if a desire to give the new US peace plan a chance, possibly combined with caution about Serb defensive measures in the area, induced the Croats to hold back.

There has also been direct pressure on Croatia from the United States, which lent tacit support to the Croats' recapture of Krajina, not to continue attacks on the Serbs. However, a senior western diplomat said, "one cannot conclude the operation is off".

While all seemed quiet on the Croatian and Bosnian Croat fronts, Serb shells rained into Sarajevo, the worst shelling for two weeks, killing four people and injuring at least 29, including six Egyptian UN peacekeepers and two children.

A five-storey apartment block was hit, apparently by a rocket, demolishing four floors and setting it on fire. The building was largely empty, but one woman was injured. Witnesses said they saw explosions from ammunition stored in one of the flats. The six Egyptians were wounded when their position was deliberately fired on by Bosnian Serb mortars. The UN in Sarajevo said it had been unable to locate the mortar, and under the rules of engagement, could not return fire.

Last week the Croatian army moved at least 4,000 troops from Split into the Dubrovnik area, apparently poised to move north to Trebinje to drive Serb artillery out of range of the medieval city. Some reports suggest as many as 10,000 troops have been deployed, although British sources believe this is an exaggeration.

The Croats had been riding a wave of success following their unexpectedly swift seizure of the Serb-held Krajina and the flight of most of the population, and the Bosnian Croats' unexpected success in surrounding Drvar, although there has been no confirmation that the Bosnian Serb town has fallen.

"If I was them I'd have gone for it", a British military source said. "If they take Trebinje and there's a peace plan they'd be in the driving seat."

Carl Gorisek, a retired Croatian general, said he thought Croatia did not want to "muddy the water" or jeopardise the new US peace initiative, especially following the death of senior US representatives in a road crash on the way to Sarajevo at the weekend. Another Croatian analyst, Fran Visnar, speaking of the situation around Dubrovnik, said: "Croatia is likely to show patience now in order not to jeopardise the new American peace initiative and avert a wider war. A diplomatic solution would entail creating a demilitarised zone and pulling back long-range artillery on both sides".

While Croatia appears to be co-operating with the US, the UN Rapid Reaction Force has continued to encounter obstruction from the Croats, Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian government. Yesterday four of the eight self-propelled guns were reported to have reached Mt Igman to join 12 British 105mm guns supposedly guarding the mountain road. The other four were still held up on the border but the UN hoped they would be allowed through.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are working with this Co-educatio...

Tradewind Recruitment: Textiles

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We require a teacher of Textiles for this c...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We require a teacher of English for this co...

Recruitment Genius: Sales and Service General Administrator

£16000 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea