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Letter to Congressional Leaders on Bosnia-Herzegovina

November 22, 1994

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

I last reported to the Congress on August 22, 1994, on our support for the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) efforts to achieve peace and security in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I am informing you today of recent developments in these efforts, including the use of U.S. combat aircraft on November 21, 1994, to attack airfields and related facilities in Serb-held Croatian territory used by Serb forces to launch air strikes against the town of Bihac in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 713 on September 25, 1991, the United Nations has actively sought solutions to the humanitarian and ethnic crisis in the former Yugoslavia. Under UNSCRs 824 (May 6, 1993) and 836 (June 4, 1993) certain portions of Bosnia-Herzegovina have been established as safe areas, including the town of Bihac. Member states, acting nationally or through regional organizations, have been authorized to use all necessary measures, through the use of air power, in and around the safe areas, to support the United Nations Protection Forces (UNPROFOR) in the performance of its mandate.

The air strikes conducted on November 21, 1994, were in response to Serb air strikes launched November 18 and 19, 1994, from Udbina airfield in the Krajina region of Croatia against the town of Bihac and other areas of northwest Bosnia. The United Nations has informed us that the Serbs dropped napalm and cluster munitions during their attack on November 18 in Bihac, placing approximately 1,200 UNPROFOR troops deployed in Bihac in jeopardy. We are further informed that the Serb attack on November 19 was against the town of Cazin, about 10 miles north of Bihac, causing between 9 and 15 civilian casualties.

In response to the Serb attacks, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted UNSCR 958 on November 19, 1994, expressly deciding that the authorizations in previous resolutions also applied in the Republic of Croatia. Meeting the same day, the North Atlantic Council agreed to respond positively to UNSCR 958 and authorized the Commander in Chief, NATO Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH), in accordance with existing procedures, to conduct air strikes in response to attacks on or that threaten the U.N. safe areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina launched from U.N. protected areas of Croatia.

The NATO strikes launched on November 21, 1994, included 39 aircraft from the Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, NATO, and the United States. The aircraft struck targets at Udbina airfield, including runways, taxiways, radars, and air defenses located at the airfield. No aircraft were lost or damaged in conducting the attacks. Initial battle damage assessments indicate that runways and taxiways were cratered and that an air defense radar was destroyed.

I authorized these actions in conjunction with our NATO allies in order to carry out the U.N. and NATO decisions of November 19 and to answer UNPROFOR's request for assistance. As I have indicated in the past, our efforts in the former Yugoslavia are intended to assist the parties to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict. I have directed the participation by U.S. Armed Forces in this effort pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I am grateful for the continuing support that the Congress has provided, and I look forward to continued cooperation with you in this endeavor. I shall communicate with you further regarding our efforts for peace and stability in the former Yugoslavia.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Albert Gore, Jr., President of the Senate. This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on November 23.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on Bosnia-Herzegovina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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