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BELGRADE, March 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Serbia commemorated one of the most tragic dates in its history on Monday - the beginning of NATO bombardments of the former Yugoslavia on March 24, 1999. Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic laid a wreath to the memorial of the victims of a NATO missile strike in Varvarin.
“Until now, we have not received any genuine condolences for that senseless missile strike at a bridge during a religious holiday,” the Serbian head of state said.
“I will never forget what happened during the (NATO) aggression against Serbia - in those 78 days and nights from March 24 to June 9, 1999.
Nikolic said it was impossible to forget a NATO air strike at a bridge over Morava River on St. Trinity Day on May 30, 1999 that killed 10 people and wounded 17.
“All these days we have kept remembering the victims of tyrants’ political goals. Alongside the names of the dead, we would like to know the name of at least one person who was punished for the aforesaid crimes,” the Serbian president went on to say.
Those monstrous acts were committed as part of the Merciful Angel operation while the NATO propaganda machine called the suffering and death of innocent civilians as collateral damage. “Our task is never to forget this injustice which led to the death of innocent civilians in Serbia,” Nikolic said.
Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic laid a wreath to the Glasnik monument on top of Strazevica Hill in the town of Rakovica.
“A nation that forgets its victims and history is doomed to live through similar hardships again. It is our duty to remember those who defended our homeland,” Dacic said, noting that today Serbia was pursuing a policy of peaceful solution to problems which it had faced then.
“I hope that such tragedies will never recur,” the Serbian prime minister emphasized.
Representatives of Serb local self-government in Kosovska Mitrovica and Zvecan, northern Kosovo, and the Society of Serbian-Russian Friendship laid wreaths to the Monument of Truth near the main bridge over the Ibar River and on the Brother Milic Square in the centre of Kosovska Mitrovica.
According to Serbian sources, more than 1,100 NATO planes delivered a total of 2,300 air strikes at 995 military facilities over the 11- week bombing campaign. About 420,000 bombs with a total weight of 22,000 tonnes, including 20,000 heavy aviation bombs, 1,300 cruise missiles and 37,000 cluster bombs, were dropped on Serbia and exploded on the ground.
More than 2,000 civilians (predominantly in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija) and over a 1,000 servicemen died in the bombardments. More than 5,000 people were wounded. More than a thousand people went missing. Serbia’s military-industrial infrastructure was totally destroyed. More than 1,500 populated localities, 60 bridges, one third of schools and about a hundred monuments were ruined. Serbian experts put the material damage from bombardments at 100 billion dollars.