US, Britain, France must explain Srebrenica airstrike cancellation: minister

Srebrenica Genocide MemorialThe Netherlands wants the US, Britain and France to clarify claims that they decided to cancel airstrikes on Serbian targets during the Yugoslavian civil war without telling the Dutch.

Dutch peacekeepers were in charge in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica which fell to Serb forces on July 11, 1995. The Serbs then massacred up to 8,000 men and boys, some of whom were sent out of the Dutch military compound.

US documents shown in an Argos television documentary on Tuesday revealed the decision to cancel UN airstrikes was taken by the US, France and Britain in May 1995, but no one told the Dutch.

This failure of the UN to provide air support to the Dutch peacekeepers in the face of the Serbian onslaught has never before been properly explained. The information in the documentary is based on hundreds of US documents made public in 2013.

Can’t ignore

Defence minister Jeanine Hennis said the claims in the programme are ‘notable’ and that she would investigate further. ‘I must and will discuss this with our allies,’ she said. ‘I cannot ignore what I saw [on television] yesterday.’

The Dutch troops in Srebrenica, known as Dutchbat, asked nine times for air support but the UN did not finally agree until July 10, Joris Voorhoeve, defence minister at the time, said earlier this year.

He told RTL news that UN officials said 40 aircraft would be sent to knock out the Serbian artillery. However, this did not happen. Four aircraft came on July 11 but this was not only too late, but made life extremely dangerous for the 40,000 people in the enclave, he said.

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