Day of Remembrance of the Victims of NATO Bombing in Serbia Date in the current year: March 24, 2024

Day of Remembrance of the Victims of NATO Bombing in Serbia The Day of Remembrance of the Victims of NATO Bombing is observed in Serbia every March 24. It was established to honor the memory of those who died as a result of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War.

The Kosovo War broke out in February 1998. It was an armed conflict between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (present-day Serbia and Montenegro) and the Kosovo Liberation Army, an ethnic Albanian separatist group that sought the split of Kosovo from Yugoslavia. After a year of the war and failed peace talks, NATO decided to intervene without the approval of the United Nations, calling it a humanitarian intervention.

NATO started its Operation Allied Force of March 24, 1999. The United States called the bombing of Yugoslavia Operation Noble Anvil; in Yugoslavia, this name was misunderstood or mistranslated, which resulted in the operation being incorrectly called Merciful Angel.

The NATO spokesman summed up the goal of the operation as “Serbs out, peacekeepers in, refugees back”. In other words, the ultimate goal of the bombing was to drive Yugoslavian troops out of Kosovo, replace them by international peacekeepers, and allow the Albanian refugees to return to their homes.

The legitimacy of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia has been seriously questioned because the UN Security Council did not back NATO’s involvement in the Kosovo War. The campaign also has been criticized for exceeding the legal limits for the conduct of war.

The campaign involved all NATO members except for Greece. It lasted ten weeks, during which up to 1,000 NATO aircraft flew over 38,000 combat missions. NATO also extensively used the Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, firing them from aircraft, ships, and submarines. The bombings ended on June 10, 1999, after an agreement was reached with Slobodan Milošević. Two days later, Yugoslav forces began to withdraw from Kosovo and peacekeepers began to enter.

According to NATO, the Alliance aimed to destroy air defensive and high-value military targets of the Yugoslav Armed Forces. However, NATO’s actions during Operation Allied Force resulted in civilian casualties, which included both Serbs and Albanians. Although NATO considered civilian casualties during the planning and targeting process, Human Rights Watch confirmed 90 incidents that involved civilian deaths as a result of bombing.

According to Human Rights Watch, between 489 and 528 civilians were killed in NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia. According to Yugoslav estimates, 1,200–2,000 civilians were killed. The Day of Remembrance of the Victims of NATO Bombing is observed annually to commemorate the anniversary of the day the bombing began and to honor the memory of the civilians and military personnel who died in the bombing.

The memorial day is marked by remembrance ceremonies held in cities and towns throughout Serbia. A wreath laying ceremony attended by senior government officials takes place at the Eternal Flame in Belgrade that was erected in remembrance of the military and civilian casualties of the bombing.

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Day of Remembrance of the Victims of NATO Bombing in Serbia, remembrance days, memorial days, observances in Serbia, holidays in Serbia