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Serbs Accused Still of ‘Strangulation’ Of Sarajevo With AM-Yugoslavia Bjt

August 16, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States sought Monday to keep the pressure on Bosnia’s Serbs, declaring the withdrawal of most troops from two key mountaintops had not ended the ″strangulation″ of Sarajevo.

Even as the Serbs were quitting the key peaks overlook the capital, Secretary of State Warren Christopher fired off identical cables to the foreign ministers of all 15 North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies urging them to remain vigilant.

Christopher has threatened the Serbs with a NATO air attack if they did not withdraw from Mount Igman and Mount Bjelasnica and also cease interfering with convoys of food, medicine and energy supplies to Sarajevo and other beleaguered cities.

U.S. Ambassador Victor Jackovich returned to Sarajevo on Sunday to monitor the situation. Christopher sent his messages over the weekend from Santa Barbara, Calif., where he is on vacation.

The United Nations said the Serbs remaining on Igman were waiting for transportation off the peak. But Cmdr. Barry Frewer, the U.N. spokesman, conceded it was ″curious″ they were still there, considering that the Serbs had moved 1,800 troops and more than 130 vehicles and equipment off Igman on Saturday.

Frewer said the 200 Serbs were ″not in a tactically deployed situation″ and were under the close watch of French troops patrolling the mountain.

″They are no threat in the area, and soon as transport arrives, they should be withdrawing,″ he said.

The State Department, however, withheld judgment, and stressed the second challenge posed to the Serbs: permitting relief to get through.

″We need to see the strangulation of Sarajevo ceased,″ spokesman Michael McCurry said. ″We need to see food, electricity, water, medicine, and necessary relief obtained by the citizens of not only Sarajevo, but other safe areas in the region.

″Those are precisely the criteria we’ll be watching very, very closely and carefully as we have been in the coming days.″

The United States has taken on a pivotal role in providing the 15 allies with assessments of Serb behavior. This puts the United States in the position of spearheading any drive to reconvene the North Atlantic Council for a final decision to attack Serb positions.

″The conditions that we’ve described as strangulation do seem to persist,″ McCurry said. ″As long as you can’t get adequate amounts of relief through to the destination so that those citizens who are in Sarajevo can prepare for the winter and get the type of supplies they need, you still have a condition that amounts to what we would call strangulation.″

And yet, the U.S. official said, ″there has undeniably been a modest amount of improvement in that situation. There are some reports that electricity has been turned on, that some of the hospitals that had been operating under diesel-power-generated electricity are now receiving electricity from other power grids.″

Convoys of trucks have reached two other Bosnian cities, Gorazde near the border with Serbia and Montenegro, and Tuzla, near Croatia, McCurry said.

Also, he announced some 100 victims of the fighting would be evacuated and brought to the United States for treatment, adding to some 100 others hospitalized here earlier in the 16month war in the former Yugoslav republic. And, McCurry said, the U.S. Olympic Committee is planning to airlift Bosnian athletes to the United States to continue their training.

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