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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bosnian Army Pulls Out Of Demilitarized Zone

SARAJEVO -- Bosnian government forces began to withdraw from a demilitarized zone outside Sarajevo on Monday, clearing the way for the Bosnian Serb Army to end a fuel blockade of UN peacekeepers.

The first of the 500 men deployed by Moslem-led government forces began to leave the slopes of Mount Igman, west of the Bosnian capital, at noon.

The evacuation was part of a maze of interlocking demands on the UN by both Moslems and Serbs which are crippling efforts to aid and defend civilians in Bosnia.

In weekend negotiations, the Bosnian Serbs said renewed fuel supplies for the UN Protection Force depended on the Igman withdrawal.

The Bosnian government threatened to stay on Igman until the UN stopped the Bosnian Serbs firing on its only access road to Sarajevo which crosses the mountain.

The Bosnian Serb Army angered the UN by reneging on a promise that fuel convoys would be allowed to traverse Serb soil to Sarajevo and three Moslem safe havens in eastern Bosnia on Monday morning.

Permission for 11 convoys was refused and a UN spokesman said UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi would protest to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic "to express his outrage and demand immediate clearance."

UN forces in the eastern enclave of Gorazde are already out of fuel and unable to carry out their Security Council mandate to protect it. The situation in nearby Zepa is similar.

UN Protection Force official Tim Spicer said the Gorazde units had only enough fuel in reserve to withdraw from the town in an emergency.

The fuel blockade goes hand in hand with the Serbs' systematic disruption of the UN aid program in Bosnia since they rejected an international peace plan during the summer.

The Bosnian Serb Army, or BSA, insisted government forces leave Mount Igman after a Moslem commando raid killed 16 Serb soldiers and four women nurses at a Serb command post this month.

BSA sources said 11 more Serb soldiers were killed and 11 wounded in a Moslem attack on an army truck in the same region near the village of Turovi on Saturday.

But the reaction was muted compared to the outburst of propaganda after the assault on the command post when the Serbs accused the Moslems of carrying out a massacre and threatened to take revenge on Sarajevo.

Informed sources in Pale said the BSA, used to wielding military superiority in the 30-month Bosnian conflict, was embarrassed at having sustained heavy losses twice within a month.