“NATO bombing of Serbia was undertaken by the ‘international community,’ according to consistent Western rhetoric—although those who did not have their heads buried in the sand knew that it was opposed by most of the world, often quite vocally.”

–Noam Chomsky

 

24th March 1999 marks the first time in history when the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) attacked a sovereign country without UN approval. This happened when NATO bombed Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War on grounds of “humanitarian intervention”.

The Kosovo War was fought between the Republic of Yugoslavia (consisting of Serbia and Montenegro) that controlled Kosovo, and the Kosovo Albanian rebel group, Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA procured weapons and launched organized attacks against Serb authorities in retaliation to Albanian subjugation, and this resulted in massive crackdown on rebellion, with the killing of 1,500 to 2,000 civilians and KLA combatants, and forced expulsions of more.

The failure of negotiations resulted in NATO forces militarily intervening through Operation Allied Forced, also known as “Operation Noble Anvil.” The proclaimed goal was summed up as “Serbs out, peacekeepers in, refugees back”. The airstrikes continued until an agreement was reached that led to the withdrawal of Yugoslav armed forces from Kosovo, and the establishment of United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), a UN peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. The NATO bombing killed between 489 and 528 civilians, and destroyed bridges, industrial plants, public buildings, private businesses, as well as barracks and military installations.