The Croatian criminal operation “Storm” in August 1995 -

Period: Yugoslav Wars

Region: Croatia

The Croatian criminal operation “Storm” in August 1995

The criminal operation “Storm” was a monstrous and the biggest crime committed against Serbs living west of the Drina river and the most serious pogrom happened in Europe after the Second World War.

In August 1995, the Croatian Army and police committed aggression over Kninska Krajina (area of North Dalmatia, Lika, Banija and Kordun) with the assistance of the Muslim Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nato Pact. In the period of just eight days, more than 280,000 Serbs were expelled and 2,670 Serbs were killed or held missing. In total, 25,000 houses, 13,000 business premises, 182 community buildings, 56 health centers, 78 Orthodox Churches, 29 museums, 920 cultural heritage monuments, 181 cemeteries, 352 trade premises, 211 catering facilities, 410 craft shops and all industrial plants were destroyed.

This genocidal operation was aimed at the occupation of almost the entire Republic of Srpska Krajina and the extermination of Serbs.

This criminal operation was declared by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE) in the first instance verdict to Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač, which was aimed at permanent and coercive expulsion of the majority of Serbs from the former Republic of Srpska Krajina. However, the second instance verdict rejected these allegations, and generals were relieved which is without precedent and serves as proof that international justice doesn't exist.



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The Impact of NATO Pact

In 1994, after the Muslim-Croatian conflict had ceased and the Washington agreement had been concluded, preparation of the “Storm” began. In September 1994, gaining approval of the American Ministry of Defense, the Croatian government signed a contract named “Democratic transition program” with  American military-consultant company MPRI (Military Professional Resources Incorporated). Under this contract, officials of this company led by retired American general Carl Vuono, organized intensive training for Croatian soldiers and officers in military camp “Petar Zrinjski” in Zagreb and in other garrisons.

A retired colonel of the Croatian army, Ante Kotromanovic, stated that in preparation of the Storm, the Croatian army not only was assisted by the above-mentioned company but by French military officers as well, who started off school for non-commissioned officers and trained officers in a place called Sepurine near Zadar.

Meeting in Brion

In Brion, in the northern part of Jadran coast, the meeting was held on 31 July 1995, with the presence of Franjo Tuđman, president of Croatia and Croatian generals- Zvonimir Červenko, Ante Gotovina, Mladen Markač, and Mirko Norac, and the mastermind of the operations of Croatian Intelligence Service, Davor Domazet, Minister of Defense Gojko Šušak, and director of Croatian Intelligence Service, Miroslav Tuđman.
They agreed that Serbs had to be expelled from the area of Krajina and the operation “Storm” was planned in detail at this meeting.

The operation before the “Storm”

In 1995, the military effectiveness of Serbs from Krajina and the Army of the Republic of Srpska significantly decreased. They couldn’t maintain and renew arm supply. Moral and efficiency of soldiers were on the low level, and a lot of Serbian troops were badly trained. They were also disrupted by internal political conflicts, and incapability to stop smuggling and war profiteers.

The Army of Serbs in Krajina didn’t have enough soldiers. There were only 55,000 soldiers for securing the 600 km long front in Croatia and an additional 100 km along the border with the region of Bihać in Bosnia. Of this number, 16,000 were positioned in Eastern Slavonija which meant that only 39,000 soldiers were left to defend the remaining area of RSK.

Compared to the Serbian Army, the Croatian and Muslim army of B&H significantly strengthen. They had a new and modern weapon although the ban on the import of the weapon was still in force. They also had the strategic advantage of holding shorter lines of communications.

At the beginning of May 1995, in the criminal action “Flesh” the  Croatian Army occupied Western Slavonija, and within 3 days killed 300, expelled 15,000, and brought to the camps several hundred Serbs. Houses and property of Serbs were plundered, demolished and burnt.

In the summer of 1995, Croatian and Muslim forces jointly attacked and captured several important cities in Bosanska Krajina- Glamoč, Bosansko Grahovo, and Drvar, and the lower area of Lijevanjsko polje where most of the residents were Serbs. This attack cut the supply road for Serbs in Croatia and allow the possibility to attack the city of Knin from three different directions. A large number of people living in these areas were forced to leave their homes and move to the Eastern part of the Republic of Srpska and SR Yugoslavia.



4th August

At 4:00 am, American air force bombed two radio locators of Republic of Srpska Krajina, a few hours before the operation “Storm” began. In the operation itself, more than 138,500 Croats participated. Although they officially denied participation in the operation, American forces actively supported this ethnic cleansing. American equipment was used for obstructing Serbian communications which led to cutting the command sector. The action began with attacking command sectors “North” and “South” on the 700km long front. Croatian forces broke through the first defense lines of Serbs from 30 different directions in the areas of Bjelovar, Zagreb, Karlovac, Gospić, and Split. Croatian forces managed to break through in the range from 5 to 15 km. On 5th August, the Fourth and the Seventh Brigades broke through the Serbian front and occupied Knin and the most of the North Dalmatia.

On the first day of the action, Croatian forces captured the place of Sveti Rok. The city of Knin was near and Croatian units only several kilometers far. Serbs responded with attacks on Sisak, Šibenik, Otočac, Gospić, Ogulin…

5th August

Shelling the city of Knin was a planned criminal action aimed at facilitating the expulsion of the remaining Serbs. They recruited “street sweepers” whose task was to remove all traces of killings and shelling before they brought cameras which filmed the triumphal entrance of Croatian forces into Knin. Everything was prepared.

In the afternoon, the news spread: “Croatian units entered Knin.” On the medieval fortress in Knin, a large Croatian flag was raised. The nearby places were occupied- Vrlika, Kijevo, Drniš, Žitnić, Benkovac, Gračac, Lovinac, Ljubovo, but also the northern parts of Kninska Krajina- Plaški, Primišlje, and Hrvatska Dubica. Until the evening, 80% of planned actions were conducted, and Serbian civilians left those areas via the town of Srb and Dvor. Serbs responded with shelling the town of Županja, from Bosnia, the towns of Osijek, Vinkovci, and Nuštar from Eastern Slavonija, the city of Karlovac from the region of Kordun, and the area of Dubrovnik from Eastern Herzegovina.

6th August

Until 6th August, the First Croatian Brigade broke into the territory of the town of Slunj (north from Plitvica) and progressed to the border with Bosnia, where they joined with the Muslim forces in western Bosnia. The only place where they faced strong opposition was the town of Glina.

Croatian forces joined with the Croatian Defense Council (the Army of Bosnian Croats) and the Fifth corpus of the Army of Bosnia on the border, at the river Korana, near Tržački Rašteli. Thereby, the supply road of Serbian forces was cut between the cities of Knin and Bihać. In the afternoon, the president of Croatia, Franjo Tuđman came to the city of Knin.

Krajina- Serbian republic in Croatia, was defeated. Petrinja, Slunj, Kostajnica, lakes Plitvice, Obrovac were occupied. On the third day of the “Storm” operation, the forces of the Serbian Army found themselves in disarray- the 21st Kordun’s corpus was completely surrounded and they surrendered on 8 August, while the 15th and 39th corpus were defeated. On Sunday morning, the Croatian army entered Petrinja and at 11 pm arrived in Glina.

7th August

On the last day of the operation, the towns of Turanj and Tušilović were taken over, as well as Vojnić, Topusko, Gornji and Donji Lapac. At 18 am, Croatian minister of defense Gojko Šušak stated that the operation “Storm” is completed from the military perspective because most of the border between Croatia and Bosnia was under the control of Croatia. The remaining Serbian divisions surrendered in the next few days. Serbian people were being killed systematically, their homes plundered and burnt to remove all traces of the life of Serbs in these areas.



After the “Storm”, the Republic of Srpska Krajina ceased to exist. Croatia-occupied areas were abandoned by almost the entire Serbian population. The lines of refugees in cars, tractors and other farming vehicles headed for Serbia across the territory of the Republic of Srpska in Western and Northern Bosnia, while they were exposed to continuous attacks by Croatian forces.

Statistic of criminal operation "Storm"

After the “Storm”, Croatian authorities completely closed the area of former Krajina. The entrance was allowed only to the Croatian army and police, Croatian refugees, and individuals with special permissions.

Since that moment, this region faced mining and complete destruction of empty Serbian houses. After the operation had finished, the crimes were done against remaining Serbs (Grubori, Varivode, Gošići, Kijani, etc.)

DIC Veritas recorded names of 2,313 killed and missing Serbs. Of this number, 1,205 were civilians, and among them, 522 were women, and 12 children.

On 11th August, the Croatian Ministry of Health published official data regarding the number of Croatian victims- 174 dead and 1430 wounded. 762 soldiers were killed on the Serbian side. In 2013, 42,000 Serbs from Croatia with refugee status lived in Serbia.


Commander of the civil police of UN peacekeeping forces in the area of Knin, general Alan Goran, wrote in his report at the end of his mission, that before Croatian units came, UN police had found in this area 128 dead Serbian civilians and 73% of houses completely demolished. He identified an Albanian separatist leader Agim Cheku as initiator of massacre against Serbs.

Emma Bonino, European commissioner for refugees, claimed that 10,000 Serbs were held missing in lines of people who were fleeing when Croatian attacks started. A number of them ended up in massive graves. On 21 August 1995, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights stated in Vienna that in the areas of the Republic of Srpska Krajina there were massive graves with corpses of Serbian civilians.

Officially condemning the act of ethnic cleansing, American military planners actually helped Croatia to carry out the biggest ethnic cleansing during that war. Retired American general Charles Boyd, deputy commander of NATO, has confirmed that the USA helped to make and conduct this plan.



Croatian persecutor’s office didn’t raise indictment for crimes that happened during the “Storm.”

On 15th April 2011, in the second instance verdict,  the Court in Hague found guilty and sentenced Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač to 24 and 18 years of prison, respectively. They were punished for partaking in the joint criminal enterprise led by Franjo Tudjman, with the aim to coercively and permanently expel Serbian people from the Krajina region during and after the “Storm.”

On 16 November 2012 the second instance verdict of the Hague Tribunal proved to be without precedent  when Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač were released of liability by the Court Council which meant that nobody was going to be held liable for crimes in the “Storm”. This judgment was issued due to strong political pressures from Washington and London.



The aggression on Krajina, and the criminal action “Storm” became the myth for Croatian people, and the brilliant victory in their history. Every year on 4 August, the “Homeland Thanksgiving Day” is celebrated in the city of Zagreb, and on 5 August, special ceremonies are held in the city of Knin to highlight the “victory” over Serbs from Krajina.

Today, most of these areas where the “Storm” took place, are deserted. Rarely any Serb has returned while their property is left in ruin. It was also common that Croats from Bosnia got Serbian property upon settling.

Center of Belgrade

On 4 and 5 August, Serbia and the Republic of Srpska mark the Day of Remembrance to victims of the “Storm” when the memorial services are held across both countries.

There are several monuments dedicated to the victims of the “Storm.”



Several documentaries have been made about the aggression on RSK in the summer of 1995, and several books have been published.

1995 YEAR

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