Dutch allies during the Yugoslavian civil war decided to cancel airstrikes on Serbian targets without telling the Dutch, possibly causing the fall of Srebrenica, investigative tv programme Argos will say on Monday evening.
Dutch peacekeepers were in charge in the Muslim enclave 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.
According to the Argos documentary, 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 by Bill Clinton, the president during the Yugoslavian civil war.
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.
Verhoeve travelled to Srebrenica with journalists from Argos and confirmed he did not know of the decision to cancel the airstrikes on Serbian targets. That decision was made because UN soldiers had been captured by the Serbian army.
The former minister told Nos that air support could have made a big difference as Serbian general Ratko Mladic moved in on the enclave.
‘I think Mladic would have changed his plans and called a halt,’ he said. ‘He would have surrounded the enclave but not invaded it.’
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