In 1999, from 24th March until 10th June, NATO bombed Yugoslavia with a series of airstrikes until an agreement was established that would lead to the withdrawal of Yugoslav armed forces from Kosovo.
It was also known as ‘Operation Allied Force’ within NATO. The targets were Belgrade, Pristina, Podgorica and several other cities. NATO launched the airstrikes against Yugoslavia in an attempt to force President Milosevic to accept the terms of an agreement to bring the end to the military campaign against the Kosovo Liberation Army.
NATO intervened after Yugoslavia’s ethnic cleansing of Albanians. Yugoslavia’s actions were widely condemned by international organisations but military action was vetoed by China and Russia. Therefore, when NATO eventually did intervene it was without support or endorsement from the UN and under the guise of a humanitarian intervention.
The Yugoslav’s targeted Kosovar Albanian civilians. It is estimated that over 8000 were killed or missing, whilst hundreds of thousands were expelled from Kosovo. You can read a the full timeline of events of the Kosovo war here.
The NATO bombings killed many Yugoslav security forces and civilians as well as causing significant damage and destruction to buildings, bridges, government buildings, hospitals, schools and cultural monuments.
After the Yugoslav army withdrew from Kosovo, hundreds of thousands of Serbs left Kosovo.
NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia had a number of goals;
- To end military action and violence, as well as the repressive activities by the Milosevic government
- Withdrawal of military forces from Kosovo
- To station a UN peacekeeping presence in Kosovo
- To return refugees and displaced persons
- Establishment of a political framework agreement for Kosovo based on the Rambouillet Accords
United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo
The UN established their peacekeeping mission in Kosovo under the name of ‘United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Their mandate was to promote peaceful and normal living conditions in Kosovo and stability in the Western Balkans.