|Battle of Osijek|
|Part of the Croatian War of Independence|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Andrija Biorčević|| Branimir Glavaš |
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Osijek (Croatian : Bitka za Osijek) was the artillery bombardment of the Croatian city of Osijek by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) which took place from August 1991 to June 1992 during the Croatian War of Independence. Shelling peaked in late November and December 1991, then diminished in 1992 after the Vance plan was accepted by the combatants. Airstrikes and attacks by JNA infantry and armored units against targets in the city accompanied the bombardment, which caused approximately 800 deaths and resulted in a large portion of the city's population leaving. Croatian sources estimated that 6,000 artillery shells were fired against Osijek over the period.
After the JNA captured Vukovar on 18 November 1991, Osijek was the next target for its campaign in Croatia. The JNA units subordinated to the 12th (Novi Sad) Corps, supported by the Serb Volunteer Guard, achieved modest advances in late November and early December, capturing several villages south of Osijek, but the Croatian Army maintained its defensive front and limited the JNA's advances.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Osijek, Croatian authorities charged thirteen JNA officers with war crimes against civilians, but no arrests have been made to date. Croatian authorities also charged the wartime commander of Osijek's defence, Branimir Glavaš, and five others with war crimes committed in the city in 1991. The five were convicted and received sentences ranging between eight and ten years, and as of March 2015, judicial proceedings against Glavaš are in progress.
In 1990, following the electoral defeat of the government of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, ethnic tensions worsened. The Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija – JNA) confiscated the weapons of Croatia's Territorial Defence (Teritorijalna obrana – TO) to minimize potential resistance.On 17 August 1990, the escalating tensions turned into open revolt by the Croatian Serbs. The revolt took place in the predominantly Serb-populated areas of the Dalmatian hinterland around Knin and in parts of the Lika, Kordun, Banovina regions and eastern Croatia. In January 1991, Serbia, supported by Montenegro and Serbia's provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo, made two unsuccessful attempts to obtain approval from the Yugoslav Presidency to deploy the JNA to disarm Croatian security forces.
After a bloodless skirmish between Serb insurgents and Croatian special police in March,the JNA itself, supported by Serbia and its allies, asked the federal Presidency to grant it wartime powers and declare a state of emergency. The request was denied on 15 March 1991, and the JNA came under the control of Serbian President Slobodan Milošević in the summer of 1991 as the Yugoslav federation started to fall apart. By the end of the month, the conflict had escalated, resulting in the first fatalities of the war. The JNA then stepped in to support the insurgents and prevent Croatian police from intervening. In early April, leaders of the Serb revolt in Croatia announced their intention to integrate the areas under their control with Serbia. The Government of Croatia considered this an act of secession.
The JNA intervened directly against Croatia for the first time on 3 July 1991, driving Croatian forces out of Baranja, north of the city of Osijek,and out of Erdut, Aljmaš and Dalj east of Osijek. The advance was followed by intermittent fighting around Osijek, Vukovar and Vinkovci. At several points, JNA positions approached to within several hundred yards of Osijek city limits.
The JNA units near Osijek were subordinated to the 12th (Novi Sad) Corps,commanded by Major General Andrija Biorčević. In the city itself, the JNA had several barracks which housed the 12th Proletarian Mechanised Brigade and the 12th Mixed Artillery Regiment. The 12th Proletarian Mechanised Brigade contained one of a handful battalions maintained by the JNA at full combat readiness. Osijek was established as their starting point in a planned westward offensive toward Našice and Bjelovar.
Croatian forces in the area were formally subordinated to the Operational Zone Command in Osijek headed by Colonel Karl Gorinšek.In practice, the city's defense was overseen by Branimir Glavaš, then head of the National Defence Office in Osijek, according to information presented at Glavaš trial in the 2000s. Glavaš formally became commander of city defenses on 7 December 1991.
The JNA first attacked Osijek by mortar fire on 31 July 1991, three kilometres (1.9 miles) of the city. The JNA garrisons were besieged by Croatian forces in mid-September. After a barracks in the city centre was captured on 15 September 1991, the remaining JNA garrison tried to break through the Croatian troops besieging the barracks and, after heavy fighting, reached JNA positions south of Osijek on 17 September 1991. The intensity of the shelling increased thereafter, peaking through November and December. After a ceasefire was arranged in January 1992, following the acceptance of the Vance plan, the artillery attacks dropped off and became intermittent, and ceased by June.and heavily bombarded the city's center on 19 August 1991. The attacks came from positions north, east and south of Osijek, and were supported by JNA garrisons stationed in Osijek itself. On 7–9 September, an inconclusive battle was fought in Tenja, within
During its height, the intensity of the bombardment was reported to reach as high as one shell per minute,and the artillery attacks were compounded by Yugoslav Air Force strikes against the city. According to Croatian sources, a total of 6,000 artillery shells were fired against Osijek in the period. Prior to the start of the bombardment, the civilian population of Osijek totaled 104,761 city residents and 129,792 municipal residents. These numbers were significantly reduced as civilians fled the fighting. It is estimated that only about a third of the population remained in the city by the end of November, with some sources placing the estimate even lower, suggesting that the population of the city was reduced to just 10,000 civilians during the most intense periods of the bombardment. Those who remained in Osijek through the fighting generally slept in bomb shelters.
After JNA captured Vukovar on 18 November, the JNA 12th (Novi Sad) Corps, supported by the Serbian Ministry of Interior-trained Serb Volunteer Guard paramilitaries,started to advance west between Vinkovci and Osijek on 20 November. The city of Osijek appeared to be the next target of the JNA, which was later confirmed by General Života Panić, commander of the JNA 1st Military District.
On 21 November 1991, the JNA captured the villages of Stari Seleš, Novi Seleš and Ernestinovo situated approximately ten kilometres (6.2 miles) south of Osijek. Laslovo, five kilometres (3.1 miles) south of Ernestinovo, was captured three days later. Those developments threatened Đakovo and pointed to the potential encirclement of Osijek. On 4 December 1991, the Special Envoy of Secretary-General of the United Nations Cyrus Vance visited Osijek to inspect the damage.
In early December, the JNA made modest advances, capturing Antunovac located six kilometres (3.7 miles) south of Osijek on 5 December 1991. On the same day, an armoured JNA force unsuccessfully attacked positions held by the Croatian 106th Brigade in Rosinjača Forest near Nemetin, approximately two kilometres (1.2 miles) east of Osijek. On 6 December, the JNA pushed Croatian troops out from Tenja, followed by a heavy attack against Osijek repulsed by the Croatian Army (Hrvatska vojska– HV) on 7 December. On 11 December, HV personnel entered the frontline village of Paulin Dvor, less than three kilometres (1.9 miles) west of Ernestinovo, and summarily executed 19 civilians (18 Serbs and one Hungarian). The JNA captured Paulin Dvor five days later, on 16 December, and attacked Osijek once again. The HV managed to contain the attack, though fighting continued south of Osijek until January 1992.
Advances of the JNA north of Osijek threatened HV control of a narrow bridgehead held across the Drava River skirting the city's northern edge. By mid-December the bridgehead was reduced to a strip of land opposite Osijek, encompassing suburban settlements of Podravlje and Tvrđavica. In order to remove the threat, the HV launched an offensive codenamed Operation Devil's Beam (Croatian: Operacija Đavolja greda) on 17–18 December. The offensive, involving the 1st Battalion of the 135th Brigade, elements of the special forces Frankopan Battalion and the Osijek-based Orao special police unit, Drava River flotilla, artillery of the 106th Brigade, and personnel of the 4th Beli Manastir Police Station, successfully pushed the JNA north, across Stara Drava oxbow lake located approximately four kilometres (2.5 miles) north of Osijek. The JNA also withdrew from the village of Kopačevo towards Darda and Vardarac, but the HV did not have sufficient resources to exploit the development. The HV lost eight killed in the offensive, but the JNA's advance towards Osijek from the north was halted.
By June 1992, approximately 800 people had been killed by the bombardment. billion. The damage was regularly recorded by 400 volunteers during the bombardment.By the end of the Croatian War of Independence in 1995, a total of 1,724 people from Osijek had been killed, including 1,327 soldiers and 397 civilians. The city itself suffered great damage during the war, with the bulk of direct damage occurring as a consequence of the 1991–92 bombardment. Direct war damage sustained by the city was estimated at a total of US$1.3
Although media reported on the bombardment of Osijek, journalists in the city itself felt that it was receiving an unduly low level of media coverage compared to wartime events elsewhere in Croatia.The attacks on Osijek were welcomed by the Pravoslavlje newspaper published by the Serbian Orthodox Church, which appeared to give a blessing to the attack as a part of a "holy war", setting it in the context of World War II massacres and concentration camps in the Independent State of Croatia.
The JNA withdrew from Croatia in 1992, but continued to contribute personnel and equipment to the Army of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (ARSK) which controlled the areas previously held by the JNA.Although the United Nations Protection Force peacekeepers deployed to the area on the basis of the Vance plan and placed most of the ARSK heavy weapons in storage, Osijek was intermittently bombarded throughout the war—the last artillery strike occurred in September 1995. The hostilities ceased in November 1995 through the Erdut Agreement securing restoration of Croatian rule in the region.
In November 2010, then-Croatian President Ivo Josipović officially apologized for the Paulin Dvor massacre, shortly after his Serbian counterpart Boris Tadić issued a formal apology for the massacre at Vukovar.
In 2008, Croatian authorities formally charged Colonel Boro Ivanović, commanding officer of the JNA 12th Proletarian Mechanised Brigade, and twelve other JNA officers with war crimes against the civilian population. The charges include causing the deaths of 307 civilians in Osijek and surrounding areas, injuries to another 171 civilians, and the destruction of at least 1,188 different structures. As of 2013 [update] , all of the indicted officers remain at large in Serbia.
In 2005, the Osijek District Court convicted former Croatian soldier Nikola Ivanković for his involvement in the killings at Paulin Dvor, and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. In 2012, Enes Vitesković was also convicted for his involvement in the atrocity, and given an eleven-year sentence.
After the war, five Croatian fighters were charged and convicted of eleven counts of murder, one of attempted murder, and one of torture of Serb civilians found in the JNA barracks, which surrendered on 15 September 1991. They received prison sentences of between five and eight years. Glavaš, who was tried alongside them for the same crimes, received a ten-year sentence.Before the conviction became final in 2009, and to avoid extradition, Glavaš fled to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he had granted citizenship. His sentence was reduced to eight years and became final in 2010, when he was arrested and imprisoned in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In January 2015, the conviction was set aside by the Constitutional Court of Croatia, pending a new trial before the Supreme Court of Croatia.
Operation Storm was the last major battle of the Croatian War of Independence and a major factor in the outcome of the Bosnian War. It was a decisive victory for the Croatian Army (HV), which attacked across a 630-kilometre (390 mi) front against the self-declared proto-state Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK), and a strategic victory for the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH). The HV was supported by the Croatian special police advancing from the Velebit Mountain, and the ARBiH located in the Bihać pocket, in the Army of the Republic of Serbian Krajina's (ARSK) rear. The battle, launched to restore Croatian control of 10,400 square kilometres of territory, representing 18.4% of the territory it claimed, and Bosnian control of Western Bosnia, was the largest European land battle since the Second World War.
The Battle of Vukovar was an 87-day siege of Vukovar in eastern Croatia by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), supported by various paramilitary forces from Serbia, between August and November 1991. Before the Croatian War of Independence the Baroque town was a prosperous, mixed community of Croats, Serbs and other ethnic groups. As Yugoslavia began to break up, Serbia's President Slobodan Milošević and Croatia's President Franjo Tuđman began pursuing nationalist politics. In 1990, an armed insurrection was started by Croatian Serb militias, supported by the Serbian government and paramilitary groups, who seized control of Serb-populated areas of Croatia. The JNA began to intervene in favour of the rebellion, and conflict broke out in the eastern Croatian region of Slavonia in May 1991. In August, the JNA launched a full-scale attack against Croatian-held territory in eastern Slavonia, including Vukovar.
The Battle of Borovo Selo of 2 May 1991, known in Croatia as the Borovo Selo massacre and in Serbia as the Borovo Selo incident, was one of the first armed clashes in the conflict which became known as the Croatian War of Independence. The clash was precipitated by months of rising ethnic tensions, violence, and armed combat in Pakrac and at the Plitvice Lakes in March. The immediate cause for the confrontation in the heavily ethnic Serb village of Borovo Selo, just north of Vukovar, was a failed attempt to replace the Yugoslav flag in the village with the flag of Croatia. The unauthorised effort by four Croatian policemen resulted in the capture of two by a Croatian Serb militia in the village. To retrieve the captives, the Croatian authorities deployed additional police, who drove into an ambush. Twelve Croatian policemen and one Serb paramilitary were killed before the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) intervened and put an end to the clashes.
The Battle of the Miljevci Plateau was a clash of the Croatian Army and forces of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK), fought on 21–23 June 1992, during the Croatian War of Independence. The battle represented the culmination of a series of skirmishes between the HV and the RSK forces in Northern Dalmatia, after the implementation of the Vance plan and deployment of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) began. The skirmishes occurred in the pink zones—areas under control of the RSK, but outside the UN Protected Areas established by the Vance plan.
The Vukovar massacre, also known as the Vukovar hospital massacre or the Ovčara massacre, was the killing of Croatian prisoners of war and civilians by Serb paramilitaries, to whom they had been turned over by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), at the Ovčara farm southeast of Vukovar on 20 November 1991, during the Croatian War of Independence. The massacre occurred shortly after Vukovar's capture by the JNA, Territorial Defence (TO), and paramilitaries from neighbouring Serbia. It was the largest massacre of the Croatian War of Independence.
Operation Swath-10 was a military offensive undertaken by the Croatian Army against the SAO Western Slavonia Territorial Defense Forces on Bilogora Mountain in western Slavonia. Occurring from 31 October to 4 November 1991, during the Croatian War of Independence, the operation was a Croatian victory and its success set the stage for follow-up advances by Croatian forces on Papuk Mountain in Operation Papuk-91 in late November and December. By the end of the year the HV gained control of Papuk, securing transport routes between eastern Slavonia and the rest of Croatia.
The Lovas killings involved the killing of 70 Croat civilian residents of the village of Lovas between 10–18 October 1991, during the Croatian War of Independence. The killings took place during and in the immediate aftermath of the occupation of the village by the Yugoslav People's Army supported by Croatian Serb forces and Dušan Silni paramilitaries on 10 October, two days after Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia. The occupation occurred during the Battle of Vukovar, as the JNA sought to consolidate its control over the area surrounding the city of Vukovar. The killings and abuse of the civilian population continued until 18 October, when troops guarding a group of civilians forced them to walk into a minefield at gunpoint and then opened fire upon them.
The Battle of the Barracks was a series of engagements that occurred in mid-to-late 1991 between the Croatian National Guard and the Croatian police on one side and the Yugoslav People's Army on another. The battle took place around numerous JNA posts in Croatia, starting when Croatian forces blockaded the JNA barracks, weapons storage depots and other facilities. It formally began on 14 September; its objective was to neutralise the JNA positions in ZNG-held territory and to secure arms and ammunition supplies for the poorly equipped ZNG.
The siege of Dubrovnik was a military engagement fought between the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Croatian forces defending the city of Dubrovnik and its surroundings during the Croatian War of Independence. The JNA started its advance on 1 October 1991, and by late October, it had captured virtually all the land between the Pelješac and Prevlaka peninsulas on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, with the exception of Dubrovnik itself. The siege was accompanied by a Yugoslav Navy blockade. The JNA's bombardment of Dubrovnik, including that of the Old Town—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—culminated on 6 December 1991. The bombardment provoked international condemnation, and became a public relations disaster for Serbia and Montenegro, contributing to their diplomatic and economic isolation, as well as the international recognition of Croatia's independence. In May 1992, the JNA retreated to Bosnia and Herzegovina, less than 1 kilometre from the coast in some places, and handed over its equipment to the newly formed Army of Republika Srpska (VRS). During this time, the Croatian Army (HV) attacked from the west and pushed back the JNA/VRS from the areas east of Dubrovnik, both in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and by the end of May linked up with the HV unit defending the city. Fighting between the HV and Yugoslav troops east of Dubrovnik gradually died down.
Operation Summer '95 was a joint military offensive of the Croatian Army (HV) and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) that took place north-west of the Livanjsko Polje, and around Bosansko Grahovo and Glamoč in western Bosnia and Herzegovina. The operation was carried out between 25 and 29 July 1995, during the Croatian War of Independence and the Bosnian War. The attacking force of 8,500 troops commanded by HV's Lieutenant General Ante Gotovina initially encountered strong resistance from the 5,500-strong Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) 2nd Krajina Corps. The HV/HVO pushed the VRS back, capturing about 1,600 square kilometres of territory and consequently intercepting the Knin—Drvar road—a critical supply route of the self-declared Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK). The operation failed to achieve its declared primary goal of drawing VRS units away from the besieged city of Bihać, but it placed the HV in position to capture the RSK's capital Knin in Operation Storm days later.
The Dalj massacre was the killing of 56 or 57 Croats in Dalj, Croatia on 1 August 1991, during the Croatian War of Independence. In addition to civilian victims, the figure includes 20 Croatian policemen, 15 Croatian National Guard troops and four civil defencemen who had been defending the police station and water supply building in the village. While some of the policemen and the ZNG troops died in combat, those who surrendered were killed after they became prisoners of war. They tried to fight off an attack by the Croatian Serb SAO Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia Territorial Defence Forces, supported by the Yugoslav People's Army and the Serb Volunteer Guard paramilitaries. The SAO SBWS was declared an autonomous territory in eastern Croatia following the Battle of Borovo Selo just to the south of Dalj.
Operation Winter '94 was a joint military offensive of the Croatian Army (HV) and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) fought in southwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina between 29 November and 24 December 1994. The operation formed part of the Croatian War of Independence and the Bosnian War fought between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and two unrecognized para-states proclaimed by Croatian Serbs and Bosnian Serbs. Both para-states were supported by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and Serbia. The JNA pulled out in 1992, but transferred much of its equipment to the Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb forces as it withdrew.
The Battle of Gospić was fought in the environs of Gospić, Croatia, from 29 August until 22 September 1991 during the Croatian War of Independence. The battle pitted the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), stationed in five barracks in the town, and paramilitary elements of the Serbian Guard against the Croatian National Guard (ZNG), police forces based in Gospić and police reinforcements from elsewhere in Croatia. Fighting in the eastern districts of Gospić, controlled by JNA forces with supporting artillery, was largely static but the balance shifted in favor of the Croatian forces following the capture of several JNA depots and barracks on 14 September. The remaining barracks were captured by 20 September leading to the expulsion of the JNA and Serbian Guard forces from the town.
The Paulin Dvor massacre was an act of mass murder committed by soldiers of the Croatian Army (HV) in the village of Paulin Dvor, near the town of Osijek on 11 December 1991 during the Croatian War of Independence. Of the nineteen victims, eighteen were ethnic Serbs, and one was a Hungarian national. The ages of the victims, eight women and eleven men, ranged from 41 to 85. Two former Croatian soldiers were convicted for their role in the killings and were sentenced to 15 and 11 years, respectively. In November 2010, Croatian President Ivo Josipović laid a wreath at the graveyard of the massacre victims and officially apologized for the killings.
Operation Jackal, also known as Operation June Dawns, was an offensive of the Bosnian War fought between a combined Croatian Army (HV) and Croatian Defence Council (HVO) army against the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) from 7–26 June 1992. The offensive was a Croatian pre-emptive strike against the VRS, a Bosnian Serb military formed in May 1992 from Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) units that were stationed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The HV concluded that the JNA offensive operations of April and May 1992, resulting in the capture of Kupres and much of the Neretva River valley south of Mostar, were aimed at capturing or threatening the Croatian Port of Ploče and possibly Split. To counter this threat, the Croatian leadership deployed the HV, under the command of General Janko Bobetko, to the "Southern Front" including the area in which Operation Jackal was to be conducted.
The 1991 Yugoslav campaign in Croatia was a series of engagements between the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), the Yugoslav Navy and the Yugoslav Air Force, and the Croatian National Guard (ZNG) then the Croatian Army (HV) during the Croatian War of Independence. The JNA was originally deployed in order to preserve Yugoslavia, and the initial plan of the campaign entailed the military occupation of Croatia and the removal of the Croatian leadership elected in 1990. The JNA intervention was the culmination of its involvement in the confiscation of weapons from Croatia's Territorial Defence, and in the Croatian Serb revolt that had begun in August 1990. From that time, the JNA had been frequently deployed to form a buffer zone between the insurgents and the ZNG or the Croatian police. In effect, these JNA buffer zones often secured the territorial gains of the insurgents and led to an increasingly hostile relationship between the JNA and Croatia. The JNA campaign plan was amended shortly before the campaign to include the relief of JNA barracks besieged by the ZNG. The besieging and subsequent capture of several JNA facilities allowed Croatia to arm its previously poorly equipped military and to equip new recruits.
The Battle of Logorište was fought east of Duga Resa and south of Karlovac, Croatia, from 4–6 November 1991 during the Croatian War of Independence, between the Croatian National Guard and the Yugoslav People's Army. The ZNG placed the JNA-held Logorište barracks under a blockade as part of the countrywide Battle of the Barracks, which aimed to pin down JNA units isolated in their bases and force them to surrender weapons and ammunition to the ZNG. However, the JNA garrison broke out from the besieged barracks with part of its stored equipment before the ZNG claimed the vacant base. The breakout was supported by JNA units and SAO Krajina units deployed to lift the blockade of the barracks and other JNA garrisons in Karlovac. A battle ensued as the ZNG attempted to contain advancing JNA units, ending with a ceasefire signed in The Hague.
The Battle of Kupres was a battle of the Bosnian War, fought between the Bosnian Croat Territorial Defence Force supported by the Croatian Army troops on one side and the Yugoslav People's Army, augmented by the Bosnian Serb TO on the other at the Kupres Plateau, on 3–11 April 1992. During the fighting on 8 April, the Bosnian Croat TO was reorganised as the Croatian Defence Council. The objective of the battle was to control the strategic Kupres Plateau, a major supply route.
Operation Una was a military offensive conducted by the Croatian Army against the Army of Republika Srpska in western Bosnia and Herzegovina on 18–19 September 1995, during the Bosnian War. The operation entailed a crossing of the Una and Sava rivers to establish bridgeheads at Novi Grad, Bosanska Dubica, Bosanska Kostajnica and opposite Jasenovac to allow for a subsequent advance towards Prijedor and Banja Luka.
Operation Baranja was an aborted offensive of the Croatian Army north of the towns of Belišće and Valpovo, Croatia on 3 April 1992 during the Croatian War of Independence. The offensive quickly gained ground after the HV advanced north of the Drava River into Baranja. The defending force of the Croatian Serb Territorial Defence Force supported by the Yugoslav People's Army artillery were caught unprepared and offered light resistance.