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Serbia Invades Croatia / Battles NATO Jets

October 1, 2009

Zagreb, Croatia (ENN) 

Clip from Serb television broadcast reportedly showing destroyed Croatian armor troop carriers

Confusion and near panic has gripped the countryside as it appears Serbian forces have launched a full scale invasion of Croatia. Last month, Serbian forces had rolled across the border of Croatia in order to aid Croatian-Serbian steelworkers who were conducting a strike at a large steel mill complex just north-west of Osijek. Now it appears that action was a ruse as Serbian armored forces departed their previous positions in Croatia and drove westward across the country on Sept. 29th.

The previously surrounded Croat Infantry battalion posted near the eastern border has not been heard from since the attack began and has been given up for lost. Several hours later, Serbian forces attacked two other Croatian military positions: One at Slovonski Brod in the south, and the other to the north near the Hungarian border where a Croatian Guard Brigade had arrived from Zagreb a mere hour before the attack and had little time to establish defensive positions. Losses were high, but Croatian military sources say the unit was pushed back only slightly and was working on holding the Serbian forces in place.

The region between these two positions was apparently undefended and the mass of Serbian armor was able to pour through the gap. A Croatian Guard Brigade that had been ordered east to fill this gap had gotten off to a late start due to bad luck and an inexperienced commander and instead met the Serbian advance head-on just east of Pakrac in what military experts called a meeting engagement for which it was unprepared.

Croatian Private Jans Varazdin was a soldier attached to that Brigade and one look at him said it all. His body was covered in dirt and mud, and his eyes were haunted by what he experienced when his Brigade was 'annihilated' by Serbian forces. A white bandage was tightly wrapped around his head and there was a large bloody spot at the front where he had been wounded. He spoke in quiet but intense words when he described the carnage that befell his fellow soldiers as the Serbian armor came out of the trees from the east:

"We had just arrived at Pakrac from our barracks in the west when all of a sudden there were tanks that rolled out from the trees to the east and opened fire. I dropped to the ground as shells and bullets ripped through my unit. Friends I had known for years lay dying all around me and our own tanks sat burning. I could hear the screams of the men inside but there was nothing that could be done to help them." 

Polaroid picture snapped by Pvt. Varazdin just as his squad came under Serbian artillery fire

"We tried to escape but this caused a major traffic jam and the Serbian tanks just kept firing into the mess causing even further death and destruction. I've never seen anything like it in my life. The enemy tanks kept rolling to the west, firing as they went, next came heavy artillery fire. Big, heavy rounds dropped onto the road. I saw one truck literally picked up and sail through the air by the explosions. It was at this point I got hit by something, I'm not sure what and that was the last thing I remember."

When asked if he would be willing to go back into the front lines and continue fighting. His reply was quick in coming:

"Yes I would, this is my country and I will fight to the last to remain free from Serbian influence."

Elsewhere NATO fighters from the United States 16th Air Force stationed in Vincenza Italy, unaware of the Serbian attack westward, continued their regular patrols in the eastern sector where they encountered and warded off several groups of Serbian strike aircraft.

Serb military media sources released this photo showing a Croatian tank that suffered catastrophic damage in a battle near Pakrac

By the second day of the attack, the Croatian Guard Brigade near the Hungarian border has reportedly taken heavy losses after a second attack by Serbian forces supported by massive artillery. One NATO F-16 was damaged by a SAM during an attempt to locate and destroy this artillery support. Other pilots reported having to dodge SAMs as well with one pilot described the SAMs as being the type mounted on top of lightly armored APCs.

By late afternoon, NATO was beginning to receive real-time satellite imagery and targeting data from it's JSTARS, both of which had previously been deployed to the European theater and directed specifically at Croatia by the Pentagon. A buildup in logistics will be needed to strike with any mass, but in the meantime the limited number of operational squadrons of F-16s have successfully defended against Serbia's Air Force, shooting down some nine MiGs and chasing off many others. No losses have been reported on the NATO side of the war.

Elsewhere, following the battle in which Private Jans Varazdin was wounded, a column of Serbian armor was reported to be approaching the town of Pakrac located approximately 80 miles east of the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

When asked about this in a hasty interview following the second day of the attack, the NATO Allied Forces South Commander responded by saying that all available assets were being tasked with supporting the Croat defenders in the east until he receives orders to the contrary . He assured the western press that air power would be built up in the region over the next few days and that NATO would soon be able to deal decisive and devastating blows to Serbian forces throughout Croatia.

Kelly Crawford (ENN)

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