Events leading to Srebrenica massacre

Following is a short chronology of events that led to the July 1995 massacre of about 8000 Muslim males taken from the UN ‘safe area’ of Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb forces. The massacre was commemorated on Monday.  

The Serb army separated women and children from the men
The Serb army separated women and children from the men


April – War breaks out in Bosnia. The Bosnian Serb army (VRS) sweeps eastwards. Srebrenica, a town of 36,000 where Muslims make up 75% of the population, is taken over by Serb troops but Muslims regain it after several weeks.


January to March – Serbs start an offensive on Muslim-held areas. Srebrenica and Zepa become isolated enclaves deep in Serb-held territory. Muslims from the area flock to Srebrenica. Its population swells to 60,000. They have little food, water or medical supplies.

April – Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde in eastern Bosnia are declared three of six UN “safe areas”. The United Nations Protection Force UNPROFOR deploys troops and VRS attacks stop. But the town remains isolated and only a few humanitarian convoys reach it in the following two years.


March – Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic orders that Srebrenica and Zepa be entirely cut off and aid convoys be stopped from reaching the towns.

In this video grab from The Haguemen are seen tied up before shot

In this video grab from The Hague
men are seen tied up before shot

9 July  – Karadzic issues a new order to conquer Srebrenica. The VRS starts Operation Krivaja 95. Troops surround the enclave and attack the observation posts of Dutch peacekeepers, taking about 30 soldiers hostage.

10 July – The VRS starts shelling Srebrenica. The Dutch force threatens the Serbs with NATO airstrikes if they do not withdraw by morning. 
11 July – NATO planes bomb Serb tanks outside Srebrenica. The VRS threatens to resume shelling and kill the captured Dutch soldiers. Air strikes stop. In the evening, Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic enters Srebrenica.

11 – 18 July:  About 15,000 Bosnian Muslim soldiers and male civilians leave Srebrenica overnight, marching through the hills to reach Muslim-held territory. Many die from shelling and sniper fire. VRS soldiers intercept and kill those they catch.

Bosnian Serb troops in Srebrenica separate women and children and send them to Muslim-held territory on buses and trucks. Males aged 16-70, but also some younger and older, are held for “war crimes screening” .
They are crammed into warehouses, schools and barns in the area outside Srebrenica. They are shot and buried in dozens of mass graves in the area.

A total of about 8000 men and boys from the enclave are estimated to have been killed in detention or while trying to flee through the woods.

Source: Reuters

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