Battle of Vukovar

June 25 1991: Croatia and Slovenia proclaim indepedence from Yugoslavia. Fighting over control of border-crossings follows in Slovenia, but federal forces quickly withdraw.

July 19: Serbian irregulars attack Vinkovci and Vukovar.
July - August: the Croatian government progressively loses control of Eastern Slavonia as paramilitary forces and local Serb militias, often supported by Yugoslav Army (JNA) units stationed in the area, expell government officials and set up barricades and minefields. Sporadic mortar attacks on Vukovar begin in July, and long-range artillery attacks begin from early August.

From 25 August, Vukovar is under constant artillery and rocket bombardment. In the rest of Croatia situaton is dramatic too. In many parts of the country the real war has started, and by the start of September 1991 the Croatian government has lost control of nearly a third of the country.

September 19: a huge column of JNA armor leaves Belgrade, crosses the Croatian border and besieges Vukovar. Since the JNA's attempts to storm the city are beaten back by Croatian forces, the Yougoslavian/Serbian army resorts to intensive long-range artillery bombardments supported by occasional Yugoslav Air Force bombing raids. By the end of October, much of Vukovar has been reduced to ruins.

November 3: JNA troops launch a successful amphibious assault across the Danube to meet up with the Serbian paramilitary "Tigers", led by the notorious warlord Željko Ražnatović ("Arkan"). This splits the Vukovar perimeter in half, isolating a pocket of Croatian defenders in the suburb of Borovo Naselje. Even so, the pocket holds out until 16 November.

Further south, the JNA's "Operational Group South" systematically cleared the town centre, isolating the remaining defenders. A key hilltop was captured on 9 November, giving the attackers a clear view of the town. The assault was largely led by paramilitary troops, with JNA and TO soldiers providing support, especially in demining operations and close artillery support. By 15 November the defenders had been reduced to isolated pockets, and on 18 November they surrendered.

On November 20, around two hundred prisoners from the Vukovar hospital are massacred in the prison camp of Ovčara by members of the Serb militias aided by the JNA.

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Page last modified on Sunday 23 of December, 2007 15:46:34 CET by 1.0.