Last modified on April 2, 2019, at 06:13

Bosnian War

Bosnian War
Part of Yugoslav Wars
Date April 1992 – December 14, 1995
Location Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina Serbian Army
Alija Izetbegović
Rasim Delić
Radovan Karadžić
Ratko Mladić

The Bosnian War (1 April 1992 – 14 December 1995) was an armed conflict fought in newly-independent Bosnia and Herzegovina between three parties: the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), the Bosnian Croats (Catholics) and Bosnian Serbs (Orthodox Christians). The war began when Serbia rejected the Bosnian-Herzegovinian declaration of independence from Yugoslavia by the Muslim-led government of President Alija Izetbegovic. Serbia intervened to support the Serbs living in Bosnia.

It has been called "the first surrogate war of the post-Cold War era", with Russia backing the Serbs, the Arab world assisting the Muslims and the United States and Europe assisting the Muslim-Croat federation.[1] Contrary to the "conventional wisdom" that the modern notion of armed "jihad" grew out of the Soviet-Afghan War, some analysts now point to the Bosnian war as the "cradle of modern jihadism".[2] By 2015, Bosnia-Herzegovina had "more men fighting [for Islamic State] in Syria and Iraq, as a proportion of its population, than most in Europe."[2][3]


The war was characterized by unclear battle lines, ethnic tension, and the mass killing of civilians. The Srebrenica massacre, the largest massacre in Europe since World War II, resulted in the death of over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at the hands of the Army of Republika Srpska, and has been identified as genocide by the International Court of Justice.[4] All parties in the conflict engaged in vicious human rights violations. Serbs hate the Bosnian Muslims, saying that Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic represents the opening wedge of an Islamic fundamentalist power grab. The Srebrenica massacre was the slaughter of some over 2,000 Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) by guerrilla forces of the Army of Republika Srpska (ethnic Serbs), led by Ratko Mladić. [5][6][7][8]


Serbian forces in the nearby hills shelled Sarajevo continuously for nearly four years; only a tunnel linked the capital with the outside world.

United Nations

The United Nations, which has branded Milosevic the aggressor in the conflict tried to intervene, as did the European Community (EU). The United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) proved impotent; its troop convoys have repeatedly came under Serbian fire and took casualties; U.N. troops had to leave the Sarajevo airport Serbian forces simply drove up their tanks and began shelling the Bosnian defenders from right in front of the neutral U.N.


President Izetbegovic formed a mujaheddin and invited foreign jihadists to fight alongside the Bosnian Army. The fighters committed many atrocities against the Serbs. Their strength is estimated at around 6,000 fighters. The Bosnian Army also received arms from Iran and military training from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).[9] An unknown number of mujaheddin fighters from Bosnia later joined the ranks of the KLA in its fight against Serbian authorities in the then-southern Serbian province of Kosovo.


Finally, NATO intervention with 60,000 troops and air power ended the war, through the NATO-led Implementation Force in Bosnia (IFOR) and the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia (SFOR). The threat of allied air attacks finally forced the Serbs to compromise. The U.S. sent 38,000 troops in Bosnia; the last ones left in 2006.

Dayton peace accords

The 1995 Dayton Agreement, signed by leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia and brokered by President Bill Clinton, divided Bosnia into separate ethnic regions; the goal was to settle peace between the Bosnians and Serbs. Dayton, however, unintentionally ensured that the Serbian inhabitants of Sarajevo and its suburbs would be forced to leave during 1996-98. Though many envisioned that following Dayton, Sarajevo would be governed by three ethnic groups, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic unexpectedly allowed the Bosnians to control the city and much of the surrounding region. Although they were strongly urged to encourage the Serbs to stay in Bosnian-controlled Sarajevo, Bosnian authorities appeared unwilling or unable to control the sometimes violent intimidation of Serbs by Bosnians. Many Serbs who decided to flee Sarajevo participated in the looting of local factories, businesses, and homes, and coerced fellow Serbs to also leave the region. Unable to provide adequate security for the remaining Serb population, NATO organizations also failed to maintain a multi-ethnic region and stem the Serb exodus from Sarajevo.[10]

Further reading

  • Burg, Steven L. and Paul Shoup, eds. The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina: ethnic conflict and international intervention‎ (1999) - 499 pages excerpt and text search
  • Clark, Wesley K. Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat (2001) 479 pp. a primary source; General Clark, the NATO commander, later ran for president as a Democrat in 2004.
  • Daalder, Ivo H. Getting to Dayton: The Making of America's Bosnia Policy (1999)
  • Holbrooke, Richard. To End a War (1998), on diplomacy; a primary source
  • Ripley, Tim. Operation Deliberate Force: The UN and NATO Campaign in Bosnia 1995 (1999) * Rogel, Carole. The breakup of Yugoslavia and the war in Bosnia‎ (1998) - 182 pages; basic introduction excerpt and text search
  • Shrader, Charles R. The Muslim-Croat civil war in Central Bosnia: a military history, 1992-1994‎ (2003); 223 pages excerpt and text search


  1. Cohen, Roger. (April 16, 1995) "Out of the Mud, Into the Morass". New York: The New York Times.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Urban, Mark. (July 2, 2015) "Bosnia: The cradle of modern jihadism?" London: BBC News. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  3. Bardos, Gordon N. (2014) "Jihad in the Balkans: The Next Generation". Washington, DC: World Affairs. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  4. Srebrenica massacre
  9. Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base. United States Senate (1997-01-16).
  10. Louis Sell, "The Serb Flight from Sarajevo: Dayton's First Failure," East European Politics & Societies 2000 14(1): 179-202,

See also