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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

5, 000 U. N. Troops to Guard Bosnian Sites

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- The Security Council voted Friday to send heavily armed troops to protect six Moslem enclaves in Bosnia-Herzegovina despite skepticism that the plan would stop Serb offensives.

European sponsors of the resolution hope at least 5, 000 additional troops, backed by air power, can be found to guard the capital of Sarajevo and the towns of Tuzla, Zepa, Srebrenica, Gorazde and Bihac.

The vote was 13-0 with two abstentions, Pakistan and Venezuela.

The vote was larger than expected after two weeks of hostile discussions. But the abstention of Pakistan is embarrassing as it holds the chairmanship of the Islamic group at the United Nations and has offered 3, 000 troops.

U. S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright made clear the United States, which reluctantly sponsored the draft, supported the resolution as a stop-gap measure.

"Let me speak plainly, the United States voted for this resolution with no illusions", she said. "It is an intermediate step -- no more, no less".

She said Washington's view of tougher measures had not changed, a reference to arming Moslems and air strikes.

Bosnia's U. N. ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey attacked the plan and its backers, the United States and Russia, Britain, France and Spain.

"What motivates at least some of the co-sponsors is a diplomatic cover to mitigate the need and responsibility for more resolute and comprehensive measures", he said.

He called Srebenica an "open concentration camp" where disease, hunger and despair "have replaced shells and bullets as the tool of genocide".

Currently 9, 000 U. N. troops are in Bosnia, some of whom will be redeployed to the safe areas, aimed at guarding Moslem civilians and curbing Bosnian Serb gains.

The resolution authorizes troops in the safe areas to operate under a wide-reaching mandate that would enable them to use force, backed by air power.

The U. N. Protection Forces in Bosnia would be allowed in self-defense "to take the necessary measures, including the use offeree".

This is defined as responding to "bombardments against the safe areas by any of the parties or to armed incursion into them" or obstructing humanitarian convoys.

The plan also allows members or regional organizations, such as NATO, to back the operation with air strikes.

The United States wants to limit its air participation to retaliation for Serb attacks on peacekeepers themselves while the Europeans and others say the resolution allows for a broader use of air power if the safe areas are attacked.

Bosnian Serbs have said they do not want , any more United Nations troops and the Moslem-led government has also rejected the plan.