Serbia, Kosovo Mark Anniversary of NATO Air Strikes

Serbian officials held commemorations on Friday in memory of the civilians who were killed during NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999, a military intervention that ended the Kosovo war.

Serbia's minister of labour, employment, veterans and social affairs, Nikola Selakovic, together with officials from the Interior Ministry and the City of Belgrade, laid a wreath in Tasmajdan Park in Belgrade at a memorial to three-year-old Milica Rakic and other children who were killed during the bombing. The Russian ambassador to Belgrade, Alexander Bocan Harchenko, also attended the event.

Belgrade Assembly president Nikola Nikodijevic laid a wreath at a memorial on Strazevica hill in Belgrade. Nikodijevic said that "it is our duty to preserve and cultivate a culture of remembrance, first of all for all those heroes who gave their lives so that we could live in peace, but also for all innocent civilians who died"

The main official commemoration in Serbia will be held in the northern city of Sombor on Friday evening and will be broadcast live by the Serbian public broadcaster, RTS.

The Western military alliance launched 78 days of air strikes in March 1999 to force Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to accept the terms of an agreement to end his military campaign against the Kosovo Liberation Army, which involved widespread ethnic cleansing.

The Serbian government estimates that at least 2,500 people died and 12,500 were injured during the NATO campaign, although the exact death toll remains unclear. Humanitarian Law Centre data says 756 people died during the bombing campaign.

The air strikes, were launched without the backing of a UN Security Council resolution and justified by NATO as a humanitarian intervention,...

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