SAT, 10 JUN 1995 20:59:27 GMT
Armed Conflicts on Mount Dinara
Summary: Croat forces on Mount Dinara and in Livanjsko polje won very significant victories. They penetrated behind the back of Knin and started surrounding Grahovo. There are prospects of a union with the units of the Fifth Corps of the Army of B&H.
AIM, Belgrade, June 7, 1995 Forces of Bosnian Croats and forces of the Republic of Croatia in the past few days achieved very significant victories in the region of the Mount of Dinara, which could decisively affect development of the military situation in that part of the battleground.
According to the reports of the Croat Radio, Croat forces practically captured all dominating heights on the Mount Sator on Tuesday, some twenty kilometres to the East of Grahovo. In the course of that same afternoon, Serb military forces unofficially confirmed the news about capturing of these heights.
A few days before that, forces of Bosnian Croats cut the road between Grahovo and Glamoc and captured all the settlements at about twenty kilometres to the South-East of Grahovo. This town is now practically half surrounded. Croat forces had previously taken over control of the entire Livanjsko polje.
It seems that military commanders of the Bosnian Serb forces were somewhat taken by surprise by the Croat decision to continue to proceed towards Grahovo. Serb military strategists had, it appears, predicted that the Croat units would "turn" towards Knin, once they took control over the massif of Dinara, and increase pressure on the city.
But, Croat forces started surrounding Grahovo after they had captured Sator in a dashing action. According to unofficial reports that could be obtained from Serb sources, the front in Grahovo "swayed" the minute Petrovac brigade belonging to the Serb forces left its position practically without fighting. The Grahovo brigade which was well entrenched and had a well organized defence, was left to confront the Croat attack from the side and was forced to withdraw. News about a lack of ammunition also arrived from the frontline.
The positions held now by the Croat forces enable them to shoot not only at the road from Knin to Grahovo, but also the towns of Grahovo, Drvar and Glamoc too. On Monday afternoon, the first refugees started on their way from Drvar, in fear of possible Croat attacks from Mount Sator.
Surrounding of Knin
Combats around Grahovo are actually part of broader operations which might be aimed at the Krajina capital - Knin. Bosnian Croats and the Army of the Republic of Croatia in these operations, as Serb military sources claim, engaged at least 20 thousand soldiers. Strong artillery support was provided, and tanks were also engaged.
The latest military victories of the Croat party have created military presumptions for preparing and undertaking a major operation in the direction of Knin. Communications by way of which Knin can be supplied are already seriously endangered, although not completely cut off, and the elevations under Croat control enable efficient employment of artillery on a comparatively broad region which extends almost to Knin itself.
Serb military planners believed that the commanders of Croat units assumed that they had no possibilities to penetrate further towards the North. They thought that the ultimate objective of the Croat forces was to get close to the key road leading from Knin to Grahovo at the distance which could enable opening of artillery fire at the road itself, or even get hold of positions from where they could shoot at Knin itself.
The latest developments, however, lead to the conclusion that one of the objectives of the whole operation could be Grahovo. Capturing of the region around this town would make communication between Knin and Banjaluka, in other words, Serbia and Yugoslavia, quite impossible. Such a step could be made in the course of a possible continuation of operations, and it could get the whole region around this city in a very difficult situation.
Croat Strategy of Gradual Proceeding
It is improbable that Croat forces will continue their military operations towards the North immediately, and that they will start on their way down to Knin. The positions they hold now are quite "comfortable" and enable Zagreb to continue exerting strong pressure on the leaders of the Serbs from Krajina to accept "peaceful reintegration". It is also difficult to imagine more intensive artillery attacks against Grahovo, Drvar and Glamoc, since the international community would not approve of such a move.
One could expect, though, at least another round of the political initiative, since Zagreb does not wish to "blow the whole thing" by hasty moves and thus jeopardize its position on the international political scene. It is more likely that the time in the foreseeable future will be used for further strengthening and consolidating military forces which have penetrated towards Grahovo and taken command over the entire Dinara massif.
Since, at least the way things stand now, it is almost completely out of the question that the Serbs from Krajina would accept "peaceful reintegration", in the next few months, continuation of military operations should be expected. But, there will still be no "charging at Knin" in the next phase, but rather capturing of new positions which will make life in the city even less possible and supportable.
At the same time, the Croat military actions in South- Western Bosnia have another, not in the least less important objective - penetration through the "corridor" in order to unite with the forces of the Fifth Corps stationed in Bihac. Possible surrounding of Grahovo would in the long run create preconditions for such an action. Undoubtedly, Bosnian Croats and Zagreb have wished for such an outcome for a long time, since militarily and "for ever and ever", the physical connection between Knin Krajina and parts of Bosnia controlled by the Serbs and Yugoslavia would be cut in this way.
Such a military operation would leave the Serbs practically without any territories South of Banjaluka, and this most powerful Serb enclave would be almost completely surrounded and exposed to strong pressure. Connection of forces of the Fifth Corps with Croat units from the South would actually be a decisive move towards a final military victory of the Croat-Muslim alliance in Bosnia & Herzegovina.