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Serbian Brigades Enter Croatia

September 1, 2009

Osijek, Croatia (ENN)

Serb tank in "over watch" position as brigade enters Croat territory

In a surprising development, Serbian military forces steamrolled across the border in response to requests by striking Serbian steel miners inside Croatia.  Serbian mechanized forces made easy progress and arrived at the steel mill unimpeded to a hero's welcome by their Serbian-Croatian brothers without a shot being fired. 

An official Serbian announcement followed on the heels of the intrusion into Croatia. "Today, our military forces are now moving into Croatia to help ensure the safety of our brothers at the steel mill, who are standing up for their rights as workers and free people. We could not stand idly by while the corrupt regime in Zagrab attempted to undermine the ongoing strike talks with threats of force and violence. Our move into Croatia is purely for the protection of our brothers at the steel mill complex and nothing more. Once this matter is resolved, peacefully I hope, then our forces will return to their proper place along the border." 

The steel mill complex is located just north-west of Osijek Croatia. Osijek and several other small towns have fallen to the Serbian advance though there are reports that the Serbian army units have ceased any further advance 'past' the steel mill complex and appear to be in line with the official statement. However the strike that was the catalyst for this incursion has now spread to three additional mills.  So far, the Croatian government is trying to threaten the strikers with words and not actions, but there are increasing demands for a firm response from the general populous.

Outcry from the Croatian Government was not long in coming. The local government was caught off guard and it's military forces out of position to even delay the Serbian army.  They immediately demanded that Serbian forces withdraw at once before the situation spirals out of control. 

From the international perspective, this latest move by Serbia is seen as foolish and unwise. The Balklands have long been a source of tension and war since Yugoslavia broke up into smaller nation states and war after war followed in the early and late 1990s. War crimes and the like have plagued the UN and NATO peacekeepers who are trying to maintain the fragile peace. 

While there has been no official comments from foreign governments regarding this move, it's only a matter of time. Serbia has been blamed for starting four separate wars in the region and of trying to conduct ethnic eradication of Kosovo-Albanians. The Serbian ambassador to the United Nations has asked to address the world body as soon as possible in an apparent attempt to calm fears and avoid possible political backlash over the Serbian government move into Croatia. 

NATO and other peacekeeping forces in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina are reported to be on full alert following the Serbian move. There has, however, been no official comment from NATO though it has been reported that NATO troops in the field have orders to drive off any would be invader. This cannot be confirmed though there are reports of NATO units moving out into the field as rapidly as their vehicles could take them, and patrols along the border are being stepped up.

( Kelly Crawford, ENN)

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