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NATO Ends Air War

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 21, 1999 – NATO officially ended its air war against Yugoslavia June 20, after Serb forces completed their withdrawal from Kosovo.

"I have been informed by the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, that all Federal Republic of Yugoslavia military and police forces have now departed Kosovo," NATO Secretary General Javiar Solana said in a statement released June 20 at NATO's Brussels headquarters.

"Acting under the authority granted to me by the North Atlantic Council," said the head of the 19-nation security alliance. "I have accordingly decided to terminate with immediate effect the air campaign, which I suspended on June 10, 1999."

U.S. and NATO aircraft flew more than 34,000 sorties during the 79-day air campaign that began March 24. After more than two months of strikes, Yugoslav leaders agreed June 9 to comply with NATO's call for a cease fire. The next day, NATO suspended the operation until alliance authorities could verify the Serb's complete withdrawal.

Operation Allied Force accomplished the international community's goals for Kosovo, Solana said in a June 21 speech in Budapest, Hungary. "Yugoslav security forces have left," he said. "The [KLA] is being demilitarized. The refugees are returning home. An international security force, with NATO at its core, has entered Kosovo, and is in the process of establishing a safe and secure environment for all the citizens of Kosovo."

Solana thanked all those who contributed to the "truly global effort" to bring peace and stability to Kosovo. He saluted Operation Allied Force Commander, U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO's men and women in uniform "for their courage, professionalism and determination."

NATO was forced to take action to end Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's "brutal campaign to expel an entire population from their homes and their country," Solana said. The alliance had to respond to this attack on its vision of an integrated, democratic Europe, he said.

"We were thus challenged to match our words with deeds," Solana said. "And that is exactly what we did through Operation Allied Force."

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