Operation Allied Force

24 March 1999 - 20 June 1999
Military personnel

In the Yugoslavian constitution of 1974, Kosovo was granted the status of an autonomous province within the constituent republic of Serbia. The majority of Kosovo’s population was of Albanian extraction, while a small minority came from Serbia. The Serb president, Milosevic, stripped Kosovo of its autonomous status in 1989.

In the years that followed, the Albanians lost all the rights which guaranteed the preservation of their own language and culture. The nationalistic sentiment of which Milosevic took advantage and the repressive policy adopted towards the Albanian Kosovars led in the nineties to an armed struggle in Kosovo, which became so intense in 1998 that neighbouring countries were at risk of becoming embroiled.

Not at the negotiating table

At the beginning of February 1999, the international community made a new attempt to bring the Serbs and the Albanian Kosovars to the negotiating table. The Serbs refused, however, despite considerable pressure from the UN and NATO, to sign the proposed agreement, whereupon the North Atlantic Council authorised air strikes on targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The air strikes were designed to end the military actions and the ethnic cleansing by Yugoslav army and police units and irregular militias in Kosovo.

Air strikes and port blockades

The air strikes began on 24 March 1999 and initially targeted the Yugoslav army’s air defence systems, communications centres and supply lines. It was not until later that Yugoslav police and army units also came under heavy fire. NATO ships blocked the Yugoslav ports during the operation. On 9 June, Belgrade agreed to a ceasefire and the phased withdrawal from Kosovo of all its army and police units. Operation Allied Force was terminated on 20 June.