(Defense official says additional targets preapproved) (550)

By Jacquelyn S. Porth

USIA Security Affairs Correspondent

Washington -- Sixteen NATO aircraft attacked Bosnian Serb targets in

Sarajevo August 5, destroying a self-propelled anti-tank weapon in the

heavy weapon total exclusion zone.

Marine Lieutenant General John Sheehan, director for operations for the

staff of the Joint Chiefs, said the NATO air strike was authorized

following an increase in the level of violence in Bosnia.  On August 3, he

said, United Nations Protection Forces (UNPROFOR) rebuffed an effort by the

Bosnian Serbs to break into an UNPROFOR weapons collection area.

Sheehan, who briefed reporters at the Pentagon late August 5, said the U.N.

special representative to Bosnia, Yasushi Akashi, "preapproved" a NATO air

support following that incident.

Ukrainian forces serving with UNPROFOR next witnessed Bosnian Serbs return

in pre-dawn hours August 5 to steal two armored personnel carriers, a T-52

main battle tank, and a 76mm self-propelled gun from Ilidza some 15

kilometers south of Sarajevo.  A Puma helicopter dispatched to visually

track the equipment turned back when Bosnian Serb ground fired opened up on


NATO authorities then identified "a series of targets" which were approved

by UNPROFOR.  Four U.S. A-10 Warthogs, four Dutch F-16s Falcons, four

French F-1 Mirages, and four British Jaguars were sent to destroy those

targets, bad weather and incomplete intelligence hampered their efforts.

Two of the U.S. A-10s struck a Bosnian Serb anti-tank gun with 600 rounds of

ammunition and reported it destroyed,  but Sheehan said NATO is waiting

independent confirmation that the vehicle was destroyed.

While some ground-to-air fire was reported by the NATO pilots, Sheehan said

no aircraft damage was reported.

Meanwhile, he said the Bosnian Serb Army passed word that it would return

the stolen weapons and UNPROFOR signalled NATO to call off the rest of the


The briefer cautioned however that the set of targets, which were

preapproved, "is still active in the sense that they are still available

should they be required."  Later, a senior Defense Department described the

"target set" selected by NATO as "proportional to what was taken" by the

Bosnian Serbs.

Asked to justify the strike, the official said it was in response to

"increased violence in the Sarajevo area," including the second violation

of the UNPROFOR weapons storage area by the Bosnian Serbs.

The commander of the Allied Forces in Southern Europe, Admiral Leighton

Smith, told reporters in Naples August 5 that additional NATO aircraft

remain on "alert status" should they be needed.  He expressed hope that

once the stolen weapons are returned to UNPROFOR in Bosnia that tensions

will diminish and the situation will return to normal.  In particular, he

1aid he hopes there will be a reduction of sniper activity.

Smith, whose remarks were communicated into the Pentagon, noted that the

aircraft carrier, USS George Washington, would be in the area on August 6.

The humanitarian airlift into Sarajevo, which had just resumed after a two

week suspension, was suspended again following the NATO air strike.

The last NATO action in Bosnia occurred on April 10-11 when NATO aircraft

attacked targets in the Gorazde area after U.N. personnel requested air