|OPERATION ALLIED FORCE: DAY 7|
March 30, 1999
Day seven of the war over Kosovo: NATO bombs and missiles continued to fall on Yugoslav army and police targets as Russian Foreign Minister Primakov tried to intercede. Following this background report, Margaret Warner and guests discuss the latest diplomatic efforts.
TOM BEARDEN: NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia now is being carried out around the clock.
DAVID WILBY, Royal Air Force: The film clips you are about to see are of a recent attack on the large MUP headquarters complex in Pristina. It is a large complex.
TOM BEARDEN: The alliance is desperately trying to halt what it calls an ethnic cleansing campaign being carried out by Serbian paramilitary and special police forces that are burning cities and villages and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee.
DAVID WILBY: The first village is the hamlet of Brestovac, where Serb MUP forces were in the area at the time this photograph was taken. The second village is Dabrido, where elements of a VJ army unit were conducting operations in the area at the time.
TOM BEARDEN: NATO Spokesman Jamie Shea said the Serbs had almost completely destroyed Peck, a city of about 100,000 people.
JAMIE SHEA, NATO Spokesman: This is something that we haven't seen since the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge in the mid-1970's.
TOM BEARDEN: As the air strikes continued, Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov met with Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic to seek a political solution.
YVGENY PRIMAKOV, Prime Minister, Russia: (speaking through interpreter) It has the aim of trying to find a political resolution so that this barbaric bombing ends and Yugoslavia has the opportunity to defend its rights by political means.
TOM BEARDEN: After the meeting, Milosevic released a statement that was read by Yugoslav Television. He said he would reduce the number of troops in Kosovo and allow refugees to return, but only if NATO ceased air operations first. He called it a sign of his sincerity in efforts to solve the problems of Kosovo peacefully. This afternoon State Department Spokesman James Rubin said the US categorically rejected Milosevic's offer.
JAMES RUBIN: With respect to the details of what the prime minister received from President Milosevic, let me say that we regard this suggestion as falling far short of what is necessary in order for NATO to stop its air campaign. We have said what is required clearly the proposals put forward by President Milosevic fall far short of what we think is necessary. Our position is clear Milosevic must halt the offensive against the Kosovar Albanians, withdraw his forces and embrace a settlement based on the Rambouillet framework.
TOM BEARDEN: Speaking at a State Department ceremony, President Clinton reiterated NATO 's commitment to the air campaign.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: The allies are united in our outrage over President Milosevic atrocities against innocent people. For a sustained per, he will see that his military will be seriously diminished, key military infrastructure destroyed, the prospect of international support for Serbia's claim to Kosovo increasingly jeopardized. We must remain steady and determined with the will to see this through.
TOM BEARDEN: While political leaders and diplomats issued statements, the flood of refugees continued. Ethnic Albanians are fleeing by every means possible, trucks, automobiles, even carts pulled by tractors or horses. NATO estimates some 118,000 people have been displaced so far. In Belgrade, morale appears high in spite of the week-long bombing campaign. Some 30,000 people, according to a Serbian TV estimate, turned out at a rally today chanting their defiance.
JIM LEHRER: More on the worsening refugee situation now with two reports, from Alex Thompson and Mark Austin of Independent Television News.
ALEX THOMPSON, ITN: One of the poorest counties in the world, Albania, is now having to cope with an influx of thousands of Kosovar Albanian refugees. It is a modern day great terror, that's how NATO described it. Those refugees lucky to get through this far scramble for whatever food they can get. It's estimated that more than 4,000 Kosovar Albanians are now coming through the border here every hour. The turmoil of those flights of fear is etched on the faces of the most frail. Most refugees can carry little more than what they're wearing. It's reported that at least eight people have died so far in Kukes hospital. This man said, "I'm going to ask for help. I hope I've got a friend in Germany who can pick me up." Albania's generosity has not been overlooked by this mobile community. The arrival of the ex-president, Sali Berisha, brought some cheer. He said, "What Milosevic has done is barbaric."
SALI BERISHA, Former Albanian President: That's the greatest barbary of a region committed by Milosevic, and not only by Milosevic, but also by his criminal administration, his criminal nomenclature.
ALEX THOMPSON: You can see, I think the army, just one or two of the mini buses. But they're using everything they've got. The army's been brought in with its trucks. They're using tractors, anything they've got to hand to transport these thousands of people from the border area down throughout Albania, some of them even as far as the capital, Tirana. And as we traveled up through the mountains today, we saw scores of people simply standing at the roadside, looking in blank amazement as these people come through their towns and villages. It's quite clear that Albania has never witnessed anything quite like this.
MARK AUSTIN, ITN: It is an exodus that seems to have no end. We found them today, edging slowly along the snow-covered mountain pass, taking them from Kosovo to safety. In temperatures well below freezing, they sit huddled in their farm vehicles. Some have only the clothes they're wearing. Others, walking, are carrying what they could salvage before they had to flee. But what they are all bringing across the mountains with them are stories of how the Serb police and paramilitaries are forcing them out.
WOMAN: They come with masks. All this - I don't know -- I can't speak. This is terrible. They are my neighborhoods -- I am with my mother, father, three sisters.
MARK AUSTIN: This family told us another 10,000, mainly women and children, are on the move, also towards Montenegro. Another family who just made it across the border told us the local Serb police warned them to leave, because the much-feared paramilitary leader, Arkan, was operating in the neighborhood. "Everybody knows he's a killer," said the mother, "so everybody is leaving." And this man told me Serb civilians were also burning the homes of ethnic Albanians, neighbor forcing out neighbor.
MAN: In our case, they were neighbors. In our case, in my family, neighbors. We saw them.
MARK AUSTIN: You saw them burning your house?
MAN: We saw them, yes.
MARK AUSTIN: And so Kosovo empties of the people who made up 90 percent
of its population.