Serbia & RS commemorate victims in Croatian 1995 'Storm' operation

Serbia & RS commemorate victims in Croatian 1995 'Storm' operation

Serbia & RS commemorate victims in Croatian 1995 'Storm' operation Izvor: Tanjug/ Budućnost Srbije/ Instagram

The Remembrance Day for killed and expelled Serbs during the 'Storm,' Croatian police and military offensive in 1995, was held in Raca, at the border between Serbia and Republika Srpska, the Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the bridge across the Sava river across which the Croatian Serbs crossed to Serbia.

Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's President and Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the Bosnian tripartite Presidency, unveiled a memorial plaque and laid wreaths, obeying the minute of silence.

Croatian Prime Minister said the 'Storm' was " legally legitimate, militarily unavoidable and politically necessary."

 The Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarch Irinej, who witnessed the commemoration, said "the only guilt of the expelled and murdered Serbs in the civil war in Croatia was that they were ethnic Serbs and Orthodox Christians."

The bridge was decorated with a tractor, a trailer, 'Jugo' car as a reminiscent of the means people used while fleeing the advancing Croatian forces.

 "We mark it ('Storm') as the greatest tragedy, while our Croat brothers celebrate it as the biggest triumph in their history," Irinej added.

Dodik said that the Serbs "now have their freedom in Republika Srpska and Serbia. "Our revenge is that we are here today, together, above the Sava river."

sremska rača, ploča, akcija oluja, vučić Izvor: Tanjug/ Budućnost Srbije/ Instagram

 Vucic added that Serbia had never asked "the other side to admit the genocides over the Serb people, something that is so obvious, but only to show respect for Serb victims"

"Don't make us celebrate the killing of the Serbs with you, describing that as a big step forward," Vucic said.

He added he was proud "because they did not succeed to ban us from bearing a Serb name and surname, I'm proud because the Serbs have a free and independent state which can and dare to stand up in defence of the Serb graves, but also of the Serbs' life and future," Vucic said.

On August 4, 1995, Croatia started the offensive to liberate the parts of its territory held by the rebel Serbs for four years.

The 'Storm' operation resulted in over 200,000 local Serbs fleeing Croatia and many killed during and after the offensive on the territory then known as the Republic of Srpska Krajina.

The numbers of killed Serbs during and after the operation varies drastically.

According to the Croatian official sources, 214 soldiers and civilians were killed. In contrast, the Serbs' 'Veritas' organisation and the sources from Republika Srpska put the number of dead and missing at nearly 2,000.

In 2001, Croatia's Helsinki Committee for Human Rights confirmed 677 civilian casualties, adding the figure might not be precise.

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