On tactics of Bosnia and Herzegovina 5th Corps' units in the 1992-1995 warPHOTO: Bosanska Krajina: commons.wikimedia.org

Oleg Valecky

With the beginning of fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the spring of 1992, wide scale armed actions started in the summer of 1992 in the west of the country as well as in Bosanska Kraina.

It is worthwhile to remind that the territory of Bosanska Krjaina itself during the WWII was the main base of the Tito communist guerilla movement , and namely, in Bihac controlled by partisans of Josip Broz Tito, on 25th of November, 1943, the first sitting of the »partisan» communist Parliament of Jugoslavia-AVNOJ has taken place.

Local Muslims were an important factor in the communist guerilla movement and together with Serbs suffered heavy losses in fighting the NDH(Goverment of Croatia installed by Germans) »ustases», including in the well known NDH concentration camp Jasenovac. Because of these traditions all Bosanska Kraina remained under the biggest communist influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina up to the start of the war.

Despite the fact that the majority of Muslims in Bihac Municipality voted for SDA(Party of Democratic Action-Islamic party of Bosnia) which received many votes of Muslims in other Municipalities of Bosanska Kraina, and important role was played by the fact that Fikret Abdic joined SDA; he was the head of the then largest state enterprise »Agrokomerc» and a native of Velika Kladusa where everybody called him »babo» (i.e. father).

Abdic was supported by Hamdiya Pozderac, a native of Cazin, veteran of the Tito communist guerilla army; he occupied positions of the President of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in1971-1974, Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament in 1971-1978 and member of the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist League.

Hamdiya Pozderac and his brother Hakiya were probably the most influential politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina of the 70ties and 80ties, and it was to him — and also to the then SFRY Prime Minister Jemal Bedic who died in an air crash under circustances not clarified — a large portion of merits was attributed in the fact that Josip Broz Tito in his 1974 Constitution introduced the notion of the nationality »Muslim».

Abdic who headed »Agrokomerz» owing to Pozderac has become his main economic force. According to the book by author Marko Lopusina »Yugoslav secret police 1945-95( Jugoslovenska tajna policija 1945- 1995″ — Marko Lopušina, Beograd, 1997), in the 80ties the Minister of Internal Affairs Dusko Zgonyanin (Serb by origin) formed inside of the State Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina a group of persons personally attached to him — together with Yugoslavian People Army security service- KOS (counterintelligence of the department of military security),with purpose to put the State Security of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the control of State Security of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia.

The lawsuit against Fikret Abdic known as the » Agrokomerc» scandal fraud can be explained by this; the true target was Hamdiya Pozderac who was at that time a candidate for the Presidency of Yugoslavia.

After Abdic’s arrest and conviction in 1987 a halo of »martyr» for him was formed in the society, and that is why after his release in 1990 he joined the opposition SDA (Democratic Action Party) which was representing a radical Islamic opposition to the then communist power represented by Bosnia and Herzegovina SDP –party of »reformed communists», formed on the basis of SKY (Yugoslav Communist League). SDP was headed by Niyaz Durakovic, the last chairman of the Central Committee of SKY of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, as Niyaz Durakovic himself admitted in the interview on February 28, 2008 with correspondent of »Radio Free Europe» Sabina Chabaravdic (»Niyaz Durakovic: Milosevic was a rigid bolshevik operated from nationalism») Sabina Chabaravdic. »Radio Free Europe». 28.02.2008), SDP lost the elections getting around 19% of the votes, despite the expectations warmed by information agencies which promised SDP the full victory.

In the light of this and taking into consideration Abdic’s connections with the leadership of former SFRY in Belgrade which were secured by Pozderac, one can surmise that there was a manipulation campaign of Muslims, as without Abdic who was symbolizing the old Socialist Federative Republic Yugoslavia in Bosnian Kraina, Muslims would not vote for SDA in such numbers.

Abdic has never been an Islamic fundamentalist, and formally being a member of the presidium of the SDA he, in practice, was an opponent of its ideology. As a result, in Bosanska Kraina local Muslims found themselves at a certain loss when-unexpectedly for them-Yugoslavian People Army supported Serbian »chetniks» against whom Tito’s communist guerillas were fighting during the WW II and who were persecuted by the State Security and Yugoslavian People Army Military Security Service-KOS.

Here, in regions of Bihac, Buzjim, Cazin, already in September of 1992, the 5th Corps of the Bosnia and Herzegovina army was formed and only in autumn 1992 Serbian troops have established a stable frontline coming through the center of the town Bosanska Krupa, on the right bank of the river Una whilst a part of that town with surrounding settlements on the river Una left bank, remained in the hands of Muslims.

As Municipalities of Dyrvar, Grahovo and Glamoc where Serbs were in overwhelming majority (more than 90%) were located from the south of Bihac, and from the north and west were the territories of the Serbian Kninska Kraina (Republic of Serbian Kraina) formed by Croatian Serbs, so those territories remained in deep Serbian encirclement.

The distance from Bihac to the nearest positions — at towns Jaycee and Travnik -of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina which was formed in June 1992 was around 100 kilometers; the distance from Velika Kladusa to the nearest positions of Croatian army-on the territory of Croatia — was around two dozen kilometers; it should be noted that the Croatian army did not undertake any serious attempts to break through the positions of the 39th Corps of Croatian Serb’s Army at Cetingrad from the direction of Karlovac and Zagreb.

The only thing undertaken by the command of the Croatian army concerning that territory which with the course of the war started to be called ‘’Western Bosnia’’: they permitted the representatives of the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to organize on the territory of Croatia the refugees from Bosnian Kraina and Posavina, and also to organize volunteers from Bosnian Muslims who before that were working and living abroad, mainly in Western Europe.

In summer and autumn of 1992 after a number of defeats forces of Bosnian Croats-HVO and Bosnian Muslims- Patriotic League in Bosnian Kraina and Posavina, the able-bodied men were gathered on the territory of Croatia and then either were relocated to the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina which was under the control of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or together with their families went to the West.

According to the book »In encirclement” written by the former Commander of the 5th Corps General Ramiz Drekovic, in Croatia from those refugees and segregate volunteer subdivisions and units of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina were formed up to 11,000 men.

The 1st and the 7th brigades -which were called ‘’The Riyeka brigades’’ or ‘’The Kraina brigades” — turned out to be the most battle worthy ; they later were united into the 17th brigade, and according to Drekovic were redeployed to the front at Travnik and Zenica in September of 1992.

Groups of Muslim volunteers from Europe and Croatia went via mountain passes through the territory under control Croatian Serbs-RSK to Bihac, Buzim and Cazin from Croatia using the passivity of the Serbian command.

Thus, on June 18th,1992 year according to the book ‘’Kraina gazias’’ by Nijaz Veladjic, a group of volunteers arrived headed by Nevzet Nanic; this group started fighting Serb forces already on 30 June in the region Ivanska-Osmaca-Serbula-Banyani.

Nevzet Nanic himself fell in fighting, but the special group ‘’Gazias’’ was formed out of his group which belonged to the 105th brigade widely known in that war. Having come to know about Muslims’ infiltrating through the territory of Kninska Kraina, the command Army of Croatian Serbs has enhanced control, and a Muslim detachment was detected on August 27, 1992 in the region of Pilj and Obilic of the Plasko Municipality near Kordun. On the next day, when local Serb units were re-enforced from Voynic and Korenica, that detachment was destroyed losing 197 men dead and wounded and 34 taken as POWs.

Muslim refugees from Sanski Most, Klyuc and Predor (captured by Serbs) who were formed into companies and battalions played an important part in the actions of that corps; similar role was played by natives of Sanjak.

As a result, already on August 13 the Unsko-Sanska operative group of the Bosnia and Herzegovina army was formed there, under the command of Hayrudin Osmanagic who was later replaced by Ramiz Drekovic, former JNA Captain and a native of Sanjak.

This group included the 1st ‘’Bihac’’ brigade (Commander Mirsad Suleymanovic) and the 2nd ‘’Bihac’’ brigade (Commander Atif Dudakovic) and these brigades had their HQs in Bihac; in August 1992 within this group were as well formed: 105th ‘’Bujim assault Muslim Kraina’’ brigade (Commander Izet Nanic) , with the HQ in Bujim; ‘’Cazin infantry’’ brigade (Commander Muhamet Delalic) with the HQ in Cazin; the 1st ‘’Velika Kladusa mountain’’ brigade (Commander Mehmed Kostic, with the HQ in Velika Kladusa.

A small settlement of Bujim in the Bosanska Krupa Municipality played an important part in combat; there the 105th brigade was formed (later reorganized into 505th brigade) under the command of Izet Nanic, and this brigade already on October 7 1992 during the ‘’Ogan’’ operation has captured the plateau Chorkovaca dominating over Bujim.

Beside that the 101st HVO battalion which was subordinate to the local HVO HQ was formed in Bihac.

In September 1992 the following unit was formed within the groups’ composition: ‘’Bosanska Krupa Infantry’’ brigade (Commander Fadil Hasangic), with the HQ located on the left bank of the town Bosanska Krupa, later reorganized into 511th brigade; in November 1992 was formed the 101st ‘’Muslim Kraina’’ brigade from refugees from other Municipalities of Bosanska Kraina.

After Ramiz Drekovic replaced Hayrudin Osmanagic at the position of the Commander of the Unsko-Sanska operative group, on its basis on September 29 –according to recollections of Ramiz Drekovic- the 5th Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina was formed with Drekovic at the head.

Already in January of 1993 that Corps managed to conduct an offensive operation at the village of Banyane where in the defensive positions was the battalion of the »Novogradski» (from Novi Grad) brigade of the 1st »Kraina» corps of the VRS. The offensive operation of the 5th Corps forces towards the region of Banyane was called »Munya(Flash)-93» . According to the book ‘‘In encirclement» by Ramiz Drekovic, on January 11, 1993 it was conducted by forces of 105th (later 505th) ‘’Buzim’’ brigade with commandant former Yugoslavian People Army Lieutenant Izet Nanic. The key role in the operation was played by segregate ‘’special’’ platoons of that brigade, ‘’Hamzas’’ and ‘’Gazias’’ which acted under the direct command of Izet Nanic and which became the basis of five combat groups.

One group out of the special platoon ‘’Gazias’’ went by the river bed of the river Glozha into Serbian rear while the rest four groups attacked from the front and flanks. As a result of the sudden operation the Serbian command was taken aback and the battalion was destroyed suffering heavy losses, and around 60 dead Serbian soldiers remained at the Muslim territory.

Also, Muslims have captured around two dozen guns and mine throwers during that operation, of which they later made a good use.

This offensive has become the herald of new strikes of the 5th Corps onto Serbian forces which later ended up with the defeat of Serbian troops first in the Kninska Kraina in RSK (Croatian Serbs’ Republic) and later in Bosanska Kraina in RS(Bosnian Serbs’ Republic), which without the existence of the 5th Corps would be impossible.

Because of absence of armored vehicles the assault force of the corps were units comprised out of selected volunteers, and designed for both assault operations for breaking of enemy’s defense lines, and for conducting reconnaissance and subversive operations.

This, for example, the special company (later battalion) »Hamzi», formed within the 505th brigade of the 5th Corps of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina represented an example of an »assault» unit of the BiH army, and to call it a bunch of thugs, as Serbian media did, is not to understand the war both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere.

This unit was used in such a way that it was either at the peak of the attack and then made a manouvre in opponent’s rear attacking the opponent from its rear, or it infiltrated through the opponent’s battle formations attacking at the time of the frontal attack; otherwise it was making ambushes for the approaching reserves of the opponent.

Three of the unit’s commanders — Asim Topalovic, Muharem Shahinovic and Asim Bajrektarevic were killed in action and this fact displays the high level of selflessness within the unit’s ranks.

The special platoon »Gazias» of the same 505th brigade used similar tactics; practices of its usage are depicted in the book of general Ramiz Drekovic. It goes without saying that not only in the 505th brigade, not only in the 5th Corps but in all units of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war such assault units emerged; their formation was under the impact of practical needs.

Serbs during the war did not take changes in tactics and organization made by Muslims into consideration and that played a tragic role in 1995.

505th brigade of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (called before the reorganization 105th brigade) was formed in the Buzim settlement , in that caseit stood out in the 5th Corps and was its main strike force. The brigade’s soldiers and officers and their commander-Izet Nanic-were discernible for their high combat qualities, so later the brigade received an official name of »Vitezka» (Guards brigade).

Izet Nanic was`born in 1965 and in 1987 graduated from the Military Academy of Yugoslav People’s Army in Zagreb and before the beginning of the war served in Air Force and Air Defense in Serbia. When he headed the 105th brigade he made an emphasis on the development of assault units in his brigade.

Later, on December 19, 1993 in the 505th brigade one more special platoon »Tajfun» was formed, in the 2nd assault battalion of the 505th brigade and thus the brigade itself acquired the qualities of the »assault» brigade and was involved in all important operations of the 5th Corps.

Thus, during the »Munya-93» operation -according to the book »Kraina gazias» by Nijaz Veladjic- the forces of the 105th brigade were organized in such a way so that main assault groups were comprising the special groups of that brigade »Gazias» and »Hamzas», as well as the squad of the 3rd battalion compiled of volunteers and one group from the 111th brigade.

Battalions themselves were to go right after the »assault» groups. Fighters did not have full ammo load, and they ofter carried cartridges in their pockets. As means of fire support they had only three mortars of 82 mm caliber and two mortars of 60 mm caliber.

When group »Hamzas» approached the Serbian positions at Lipa and »Kedicka» pitch, at 6.00 hrs a.m. they suddenly hit at all the Serbian fire positions and after half an hour broke their resistance down in the most important positions. Serb reinforcements moving to support the troops were ambushed by »Gazias» unit fighters and by group from 111th brigade who had infiltrated Serb positions before.

Muslims have managed to catch one anti-tank gun ZIS of 76mm caliber, two anti-aircraft guns of 20mm caliber, two mortars of 82mm caliber, six mortars of 60mm caliber and three recoilless guns of 82mm caliber; 69 bodies of Serb soldiers lay in the positions.

Then Serbian artillery stroke a blow at the Muslims’ positions and there were eight fatalities because of the blow (all in all 17 men died in the operation); until January 14 Serbs counter-attacked (including volunteers’ forces from Serbia), but Serbs were not able to retrieve the lost positions.

By the way during combat actions the 5th Corps’ servicemen often used the Arabic word »tekbir» as war cry; this word is used by clergy during namaz.

It goes without saying that Serbs were not passive, and the SVK-Army of Croatian Serbs -command understood the danger from the 5th Corps of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Kninska Kraina in Croatia,as the 5th Corps being in the rear of Kninska Kraina.

Thus, according to the book of the former Commander of the 5th Corps Ramiz Drekovic »In encirclement» during the offensive on April 27, 1993 in the region of Bosanska Boyna, of the forces of the 39th Bania’s Corps of SVK, i.e. from the territory of Croatian Serbs territory-RSK, as a result of a breakthrough made by the Serbian infantry battalion enforced by a tank company, the 521st brigade was defeated and panic erupted in Velika Kladusa..

The 5th Corps command relocated support from 501st, 511th and 505th brigades to that location, as well as »special» police detachment, and the Serbian offensive was stopped. Probably, if similar Serbian forces’ breakthroughs were conducted all along the frontline, the 5th Corps could have been defeated.

However, the offensive of the 39th SVK Corps was not supported, and on the 29th of April its forces returned to the start line.

New Serbian offensive, by VRS-Army of Bosnian Serbs, on June 26, 1993 at Bihac this time, — according to the Drekovic’s book — was stopped after an initial success, and the formerly defeated 503rd and 504th brigades have recaptured the pitch taken by Serbs before; they were supported by reserves from 501st and 502nd brigades as well as by a battalion of Military police and by a detachment of special police.

On the 1th of September,1993 Armed forces of Croatian Serbs-SVK — undertook a new offensive on the forces of the 5th Corps at Bosanska Bojna and broke the frontline through. During the night 5th Corps forces counterattacked and repelled Serbs to their previous positions at the border. After the defeat of 521st brigade’s forces at Bosanska Bojna, its commander Mehmed Kostic was demoted by Drekovic and replaced by Izet Latic.

The Croat/Muslim war which began in spring 1993, practically did not touch Western Bosnia. After several clashes the local HVO brigade and its commander Vlado Shantic understood that they had no chances for success.

But the situation of »Western Bosnia» itself was critical in 1992-1993, and the 5th Corps was fighting in conditions of almost total isolation. This unit was desperately lacking weapory and munitions, as manufacturing of some kinds of munitions and armaments on the local level was going on, but it was on an insignificant scale whereas Yugoslav People’s Army has evacuated its stores. The 5th Corps’ troops were lacking everything starting from foodstaffs to fuel and ammunition.

Croatian Airforce was playing an important role; they were dropping munitions and weapon to 5th Corp by airplanes and helicopters, or by own airplanes and helicopters of Croatian Airforce.

UN convoys were going through the Serbian territory and not without big money, otherwise Serbs would hardly let them go.

Additionally, the French and the Bangladeshi battalions of the UN Peace-keeping Force were armed with small arms of different calibers, other than former Yugoslav People’s Army; these battalions appeared here after in May of 1993 Bihac was declared a UN protected zone.

International arms dealers played a much more important role; they used transport planes rented in third countries. Thus, one of such planes — Ukrainian AN-26 on August 1, 1994- was shot down over Kninska Kraina from antiaircraft rocket complex ‘’Kub’’ (SA-6), and then unexpectedly dollars started pouring from the falling plane onto heads of Serb peasants.

After the investigation of the shot down plane it was found out that the plane was Ukrainian and it had already unloaded its cargo in Bihac, and a representative of the exporter, a person with Russian passport — was found in the plane.

Representative of the Ukrainian contingent at the meeting with representatives of the HQ of Army of Croatian Serbs (SVK) generals Sekulic and Loncar, declared that the plane was hired in Ukraine but by some citizens of the Russian Federation.

It was not a unique case: at the end of 1994 near Bihac a helicopter Mi-8 with Russian crew was shot down; it was carrying cargoes for the 5th Corps.

However, all that was insufficient, as it was not possible to dump fuel cisterns from the air, and the number of Muslim forces in Western Bosnia required perpetual air bridge, which was not organized until the end of the war.

The most beneficial trade with the 5th Corps which had a large quanity of financial means received from Izetbegovic was at the border with Serbian Kraina Republic(Croatian Serbs’ teritory), and at that time it was preferred to have trade but not wage war with the 5th Corps.

Amor Masevic, the chairman of the commission concerning the exchange of Bosnia and Herzegovina , after the war was mentioning the figure of 20 million German marks a month; thus he estimated the volume of the Serbian trade with Bihac.

Fikret Abdic has played an important part in that trade; he stayed in Croatia after leaving Sarajevo, and he reached some agreement with Tudjman. Owing to his connections with the pre-war leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina and with the State Security of Yugoslavia, Abdic with the beginning of the war took under his control the transfer of the ‘’humanitarian‘’ aid by UN convoys to Bihac and Velika Kladusa.

A third part of the aid was given to Serbs and that is why for them he was the most reliable partner.

After returning to the Western Bosnia on September 2, 1992 by the AN-2 airplane which arrived from Zagreb Abdic started establishing his own power by customary methods of intrigues. According to the book by Ramiz Drekovic »In encirclement», Abdic has arranged the replacement of the Chairman of the Municipal Council (Parliament) and the Head of the Bihac Municipality, correspodingly Ljublyankic and Veladjic.

Having replaced the latter two in March of 1993 for the less dangerous for him Tapic and Yusic, Abdic started tackling the local police. Using the support of the former Minister of Interior of Bosnia and Herzegovina Alya Delimustafic, Abdic put Irfan Saracevicto to be the head of the Bihac CSB (MIA regional center).

The latter before the war was working in the local DB (state security of Yugoslavia) and evidently had connections with Fikret Abdic. According to Drekovic, he was openly liaising himself with Abdic, and it triggered resistance in the local SDA and in the HQ of Ramiz Drekovic.

As a result one more CSB has appeared in Bihac, to where a number of the employees of the old CSB(MIA regional center) has come over. Finally, the issue was formally settled, and these CSBs(MIA regional centers) were re-united into one, and Saracevic has become the deputy of a more appropriate person for the local SDA, Zijad Kadic, but in reality the split was continuing.

At the same time, Abdic has managed to put under his influence a portion of the 5th Corps officers and soldiers, first of all from 521st and 527th brigades, mobilized in the Velika Kladusa Municipality, which was the center of Abdic’s supporters.. Probably the fact that Abdic spent a bigger part of his time in Velika Kladusa has played a negative part for him, leading to the weakening of his influence in Bihac.

But even bigger blow to his influence was struck by Serbs, killing and expelling many Muslims in Kraina, as it was difficult to convince Muslims, especially refugees, that only Izetbegovic, Drekovic and his »sanjaklis» and also SDA «Islamic extremists» were guily of war, and Abdic was trying to do just that.

His suggestions concering formation of a special economic zone in Bihac confronted the »war logic» and by that were beating the credibility of the 5th Corps fighters themselves and he underestimated that under the influence of advices from the outside. Probably, if Serbs undertook big offensive to take Bihac, Abdic would have been able to convince local Muslims to agree to the demilitarization of that zone which was offered to them.

Thereby Abdic who had police under his control could really rule Western Bosnia, and Serbs would not have danger represented by the 5th Corps and, probably would not have lost neither Kninska Krajina in August of 1995 nor a part of Bosanska Krajina in August-October of 1995.

And what is more, Abdic has managed to win the support of the international representatives Owen and Stoltenberg who invited him to the Bosnia and Herzegovina peace conference held in Switzerland on June 12, 1993. The »Velkaton» radio station used that fact in its radio transmittions, and on September 1993 Abdic announced on the radio about the formation of the »Western Bosnia Autonomous region»

As the head of that »Autonomous region of Western Bosnia» Abdic signed peace on October 1993 in Zagreb with the head of Herzeg-Bosna Mate Boban, and then going to Belgrade personally, in the presense of Slobodan Milosevic, signed the peace agreement on October 22, 1993.

The forces of the 527th brigade which was formed in mid-August of 1992, immediately came over to Abdic’s side, whereas its commander Niyaz Milykovic with a group of his fighters left Velika Kladusa and later he formed 506th special brigade within the 505th Corps.

Abdic himself has financed additional material aid to local police, and also to 521st and 527th brigades which were under his control. However, Drekovic intruded into that situation and gave the order to upply every soldier with a monthly material aid amounting to 5 liters of vegerable oil, 2 kg of coffee, a carton of cigarettes and 50 kg of flour.

It has to be noted that at that time in Bihac a 50 kg sack of flour cost 1000 German marks, a liter of vegetable oil –up to 18 marks, and a kilo of sugar-20 German marks.

But even more important was the fact that by September of 1993 the 505th Corps was a mighty enough military force, and its 502nd, 505th and 511th brigades were less prone to the »autonomist» propaganda from Velika Kladusa, as there was a big number of refugees from communities taken over by Serb troops.

Thus, Abdic, when he started the offensive agains the 5th Corps, did not have conrtol over Bihac and that led to his defeat. After the proclamation of the »Autonomous region of Western Bosnia» the 505th Corps’ forces surrounded the CSB (MIA regional center -Police HQ) in Bihac, also Police stations in Bihac and Cazine and disarmed them, together with the forces of Reserve police in Bihac.

Police station in Bosanska Krupa at once came over to the 5th Corps’ side. Later, a part of the military police was transferred to the police force subordinate to CSB Bihac, which was »cleaned» of Abdic’s supporters. For the 5th Corps it has played a positive role depriving the soil for the habitual in that war conflicts between the Army and Police.

At the same time, the attempt of Abdic on October 2,1993 to seize control over Cazin has failed, as he had sent there not organized military units, but crowds of his supporters who decided by way of blockade of HQs of 503rd, 504th and 517th brigades to seize power over them.

According to the book by Nijaz Veladjic »Kraina gazias», in Cazin the commander of 503rd brigade Muhamed Delalic has remained fidel to the 5th Corps, whereas the commander of the 505th brigade Nevjad Djeric came over to the Abdic’s side; however, both brigades continued to be subordinate to the 5th Corps.

Drekovic-according to his memoirs- arriving to Cazin and supported by military police, has demoted the commanding officers of 504th and 517th brigades and retained the previous situation. However, on October 15th, the demoted commander of the 504th brigade, Nevjad Djeric, entering Cazin with a group of Abdic’ s supporters from 527th brigade, proclaimed the power of Abdic over the town, and forces, fidel to him from 517th brigade were dispatched to the region of the Johovica village, to secure the takeover of Cazin.

In case of success of Abdic’s forces, the 5th Corps would have at its disposal only a small region with Bihac in the center, and it could not hold out for long. As a result , a combat group of the 5th Corps, 502nd brigade (up to 120 men) was sent to Johovica, and it stopped the crowd of Abdic supporters opening fire on October 2nd.

A shootout started and Abdic sent new forces into that region and so, according to Drekovic, a frontline was formed in the region of villages Johovica, Skokovi, Todorovo. The 5th Corps’ command, having stopped Abdic’s forces at that line, prepared on October 16th, on the next day after Djeric took Cazin, an attack on Cazin by forces of combat groups from 501st, 505th and 511th brigades. As a result of the operation the town was taken at once and 70 Abdic’s supporters were taken POWs.

In November of 1993 the armed forces of Fikret Abdic, according to the book »Krajina’ gazias» by Nijaz Veladjic, had five brigades totally numbering to ten thousand men, came over to offensive with the support of Serbian artillery.

However , in the region of Tyrzac and Pjanic-according to Veladjic- the forces of the 5th Corps counterattacked capturing villages of Pjanic, Tyrzacka Rastela and Krizh, and beside this, at another sector of the front 5th Corps’ forces disarmed Abdic’s supporters at villages Chaglica, Zboriste and Cirvarevac.

According to the book »Kraina gazias», on December 15 forces of the 505th brigade seized the town Todorov defeating and capturing a bigger part of the forces of the 3rd brigade with its commader Fikret Keserovic, seizing two mountain guns B-1 of 76 mm caliber.

During the December fighting in the region of the village Skokovo forces of the 505th Corps (namely 505th brigade,501st brigade, 511th brigade , also a specialist operations detachment of the 5th Corps and the 1st »Bosnian» brigade formed of refugees from other Municipalities of Bosnian Kraina remaining under Serb control have captured the village Skokovo itself defeating forces of the 4th brigade of Fikret Abdic and taking around 80 POWs.

By Nijaz Veladjic’s book »Kraina’ gazias» , on 30 December of 1993 during fighting at Chaglica, Zboriste and Vyrhovske Fikret Abdic’s 1st brigade was defeated and the brigade’s HQ with its commander Mirhet Husic was taken captive, and on 12 January at Stabandje around 100 servicemen of Fikret Abdic’s forces were disarmed.

These decisive measures of the 5th Corps and of its new commander (as of November 1993) General Atif Dudakovic have led to the situation when local forces of HVO (101st brigade) did not take any steps to support Abdic, though their commander Vlado Shantic defected to the latter.

With the mediation of the French peacekeeping battalion Command on 18 January of 1994 ceasefire was signed between forces of the 5th Corps and the commander of the armed forces of the »Autonomous region of Western Bosnia» Asim Delic.

Only on 9th of May of 1994 Fikret Abdic’s forces having Serb units in them started an offensive to the town Todorovo which was defended by forces of the 503rd, 517th, 502nd and 505th brigades, where Abdic’s forces have managed to seize important pitches of Marjina Glava and Behric Birdo over Todorov.

Forces of the 505th brigade which remained in the center of Todorovo were then encircled, however during the night from 11th to 12th of May –according to the book of Nijaz Veladjic- the special units of the 505th brigade have broken through to them and in the morning a counterattack started during which the pitches Majrina Glava and Behric Brdo have been retaken.

On 11th of June of 1994 a new offensive of the forces of 505th and 1st»Bosnian» brigades as well as of the specialis operations detachment »Ahmet Mirzlyak-Brena» ensued at Todorovo and Golubovic.

While the command of the 5th Corps was sending all the reserves against Abdic, the Serb side did not undertake any large-scale offensive, though at that time an opportunity emerged to send Serbian troops to the side of Abdic’s forces in order to attack, and by that accusations made by the international community would have been evaded regarding violations of the UN Security Council resolution in»protected zones». By that time Abdic had a ten thousand men strong armed forces organized into five brigades.

However in practice the war was dragging on under the external political pressure. With the signing of Peace treaty in February of 1994 between Alya Izetbegovic and Mate Boban which stopped the fighting between Croats and Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993, air shipments for forces of the 5th Corps resumed from the Croatian territory.

Besides that in Western Bosnia the command of the 5th Corps was able to deceive their opponents during the designed special operation. Then Atif Dudakovic, under the pretext of trade with the opponent, in summer of 1994 dismissed Hamdiya Abdic, the commander of the well-known here 502nd »Tigrovi» brigade.

As a result, Hamdiya Abdic, as an »oppositionist», became closer to Fikret Abdic, and at the meeting in July in Velika Kladusa, offered him a plan to take Bihac by forces of the »rebel people».

Officers of the military security service in the SVK HQ in Knin, as well as personally Radovan Karadjic and Milan Martic have approved Abdic’s plan called »Sloboda-94» (»Freedom-94»).

In the morning of July 7th in Bihac, on the assignment of Dudakovic,explosive charges started to explode, seats of fire started to be created, and the radio station in Bihac announced that subversions started in the town of Bihac.

At the same time units of the 5th Corps, using blank cartridges, were imitating combat in town and in the neighboring villages, where flags of »Autonomous region of Western Bosnia» were hoisted, and international media picked up the news about a riot in Bihac.

Finally, for three days — 7th, 8th and 9th of July Serbs transported weapons and ammunition for »rebels» in Bihac by trucks via Izec; that was controlled by officers of the military security service of SVK Branko Cuic and Rasim Basic, and then, according to that book, the following supplies were delivered to the 5th Corps from its opponents: around a thousand bits of firearms, 200,000 bits of ammo for firearms, 200 bits of antitank weapons, four vehicles and several tons of foodstuffs.

According to the book by Nijaz Veladjic »Krajnski gazias», the operation was over on the 9th of July, when a member of the government of Fikret Abdic — Arif Zukovic and a security officer of Fikret Abdic-Adis Saric were arrested, and during the attempt of arrest officers Branko Cuic and Rasim Basic, as well as a member of the government of Fikret Abdic Mujo Behric were killed.

In August of 1994 the 5th Corps using the given break has re-grouped and started the new operation called »Tiger» against forces of Fikret Abdic. On the 4th of August Atif Dudakovic’s forces of the 5th Corps knocked out the forces of the 4th brigade of Fikret Abdic’ forces from Pecingrad taking several hundred POWs..

Thereby Velika Kladisa was doomed, and during the night from the 20th to the 21st August –according to the book »Kraina gazias» by Niyaz Veladzic- the forces of the 505th brigade broke therough the frontline near Velika Kladusa, and at 5 a.m. entered the center of the town.

This has led to the fact that in August of 1994 the 5th Corps has managed to establish the full control over the territory of Western Bosnia, and around forty thousand fidel supporters of Abdic and their family members ran away to the Serbian territories of the Republic of Srpska Krajin,a after Abdic himself left Velika Kladusa on the 21st of August 1994; Velika Kladusa has been seized by the 5th Corps.

In that case the UN troops were no obstacle for Serbs, as in October of 1994 the French UN peace-keeping battalion was replaced by the battalion of the Bangladeshi peace-keepers.

That battalion was armed only with with obsolete APCs BTR-60 PB, and it is indicative that when at the end of October forces of VRS, SVK and Fikret Abdic resumed fighting against the 5th Corps, there already were no Frenchmen there.

Added to everything else, in the beginning of November the Sector Chief Canadian Colonel Lenieour cancelled the constant on-call service duty of the light-armed Bangladeshi at observation posts, where only UN military observers remained.

Finally, the VRS(Army of Bosnian Serbs) command has decided to undertake an independent offensive operation in the direction of Radic-Buzim-Cazin-Airport Zelyava, to cut the Western Bosnia in two parts and by that to finish the 5th Corps off.

Buzim has been selected as the main target of the operation »Breza-94». General Ratko Mladic personally was in command of the VRS operation at the positions of the 505th and 511th brigades of the 5th Corps, and the commander of the 1st »Kraina»corps General Momir Talic was at the command post side by side with Mladic.

Artillery and rifle fire was delivered for three days, including fire from antitank guided systems, and the 262 mm caliber MLRS »Orkan» were waging fire on towns Cazin and Buzim.

Accodring to Nijaz Veladzic’s book »Krajina gazias», the Serbian offensive started on the 3rd of September at Radoc on the main direction Culumak-Radoc, and on the auxiliary directions on pitches Nikolica Glavica and Kedica Glavica and on the plateau Corkovaca.

During the offensive the Serbian troops have managed to move ahead, but before the introduction of the main forces into action, when in the afternoon the Serbian units took a break, during the night from 11th to 12th of September the Muslim special groups based on the special units of the 505th brigade »Hamza»,»Gazias» and «Tajfun», numbering up to half a thousand men — according to the book by Niyaz Veladzic (who was the participant of those events in the unit »Gazias») — have managed to infiltrate through the Serbian military dispositions.

According to Veladjic, on the morning of September the 12th Serb tanks waging fire moved onto Muslim positions, and at the same time the special groups of Muslims armed with rocket launchers attacked the Serbian rear, namely the places where ammunition were placed stored in shelters and in trucks.

After the latter exploded, in some Serbian units panic started, and other Serbian units were without communications and command because Mladic himself was wounded by a shell of the Muslim antitank gun ZIS-3 during the attack at his command post at Culumku and was evacuated from the battlefield.

As a result the Serbian troops retreated losing dozens of men wounded and dead. Forces of the 5th Corps at Bihac came over to offensive, and on the 25th of October the forces of the 505th brigade broke through the Serbian frontline near the »Gyrmec» VRS barracks.

Ispired by the success, during the night from 31st of October to 1st of November the forces of the 505th and 511th brigades crossed the river Una by boats and disembarked at Bosanska Krupa, and in the morning captured villages Ostruznica, Kolajevac and Cer, defeating units of the Serbian »Bosanska-Krupska» brigade.

On the same day at the river Una-according to the book »Kraina gazias» by Nijaz Veladzic- a river crossing was established on which, because of the Serbian rifle fire, it was possible to move only during the night.

According to Veladjic, the Muslims’ logistic supply was working badly, and the units which had disembarked onto the other bank were lacking supplies, and moreover during the operation there was a replacement of positions of 505th brigade by forces of 511th brigade who wanted to enter their town first.

Serbs, however, having recuperated from the suddenness and having received reinforcements, have counterattacked the positions of 505th brigade and 511th brigade. According to Veladjic, the attempt of the further Muslim offensive was stopped by the Serbs at the Oblej pitch , and by that all the offensive to the Govedarica settlement — a suburb of Bosanska Otoka — was stopped as well.

According to Veladjic, forces of the 505th brigade were practically encircled for 2 days, and only the redeployment of a new unit has reestablished the connection with troops. As a result, on the 10th of November the command has taken the decision to withdraw troops from the foothold, and Muslims, having set minefields behind them and having destroyed the seized weaponry, got accross to their bank of the Una river during the night.

Only then the Serbian side, under pressure from Belgrade, has made its mind about taking certain decisive measures, and Slobodan Milosevic has rendered a more substantive support to Fikret Abdic; to Fikret Abdic -with the approval of Slobodan Milosevic — not only weapons but men have been sent, mainly from forces of the DB (State Security) of Serbia -the detachment of »Red berets» headed by Milorad Ulemek, and also the detachment »Skorpions» of Slobodan Medic.

Mobilization of Abdic supporters was also conducted, and there were around 4700 of them total. General Novakovic from SVK was appointed the commanding officer of the operation named ‘’Spider’’; his HQ was located at Petrova Gora.

However, in practice –accoring to the interview of SVK General Milisav Seculic to the »Free Bosnia» magazine already after the war- weapons and ammunitions were flooding form Serbia both to the defense forces of Western Bosnia and to the 5th Corps, and facts became known when Republika Srpska government ministers were escorting fuel convoys to Bihac at the height of the Serbian operation.

Not once , Bosnia and Herzegovina media informed about facts of trade during that operation, and those episodes were recurring when after the war, listening to the speech of the 5th Corps commander (since 1993) Atif Dudakovic, Alija Izetbegovic was remarking: »you would have liberated nothing if I had not paid for that».

Nevertheless, Serbian forces have played a big role in the beginning of the offensive of Fikret Abdic’s armed forces of »Autonomous region of Western Bosnia»; at that time inside the Armed forces of Ficret Abdic a lot of Serb fighters from RSK(Croatian Serbs) and RS(Bosnian Serbs) were fighting, who went to war for money by whole units.

On the 16th of November a big offensive was started both on Velika Kladusa and on Bihac by Fikret Abdic’s troops, SVK units and units of DB (State Security ) of Serbia. However, despite the initial success, they could not take Velika Kladusa up until n 19th of December of 1994.


However, in the direction of Bosanska Krupa forces of Bosnian Serbs have managed in November of 1994 to create two footholds on the left bank of the Una river , near Kobiljnjak and Coljuk, and the forces of the 1st »Kraina» corps of VRS under the general command of General Milovanovic, have managed, after forcing the river Ripac, after a couple of days after the start of the offensive, to take settlements Sokolac, Debeljaca, Vedro Polje and Klokot, and to enter Bihac itself; they had only about a kilometer to go to the center of that little town.

It seemed that now the time has come to fully defeat the 5th Corps, but unexpetedly from Belgrade an order arrived to stop the whole operation, because the arrival of the American representative Jim Carter was expected, who arrived to Pale in December of 1994. Another truce has given nothing useful for Serbs, but Serbian troops in Bihac were defeated militarily this time at the opponent’s counterstrike; during that only in Bihac itself around a few dozens Serbian fighters died.

At that time widespread rumours were circulating that Alja Izetbegovic has paid a big sum of money to the Serb leadership for stopping the offensive on Bihac.

Finally, Serb leadership had to say good-bye to plans of the defeat of the 5th Corps, as SVK by the late autumn started experiencing all the bigger pressure from the side of the Croatian army, and VRS had to face perpetual Muslim offensive operations at Ozrenj, at Teocak, at Nevesenje and in the region of Sarajevo.

As a result, by the mid-February of 1995 at the front near Bihac forces of the 501st and 502nd brigades have managed to recapture the positions lost by them before, and in their offensive at Bihac they took settlements and villages Vedro Polje, Mali and Veliki Skocay, Medjurecje, Pritoka, Ripac and the region of the settlement Grabez.

Later the 5th Corps has played one of the key roles in the Serbian defeat, as yet in July of 1995 forces of 505th, 510th and 511th brigades have broken through the opponent’s positions near the village Ivanyska in the direction of the Croatian border, and then, during the operation of the Croatian armed forces »Thunderstorm» (4-8 August of 1995) the forces of the 5th Corps by a number of operations in the rear of Croation Serbs’ Army-SVK have brought panic into the ranks of its forces, and the 5th Corps burned down several Kraina villages.

Right after that Croatian operation »Thunderstorm» the 5th Corps has defeated the forces of Fikret Abdic which were compelled to flee to the protection of Croats who at that time received more than two dozen thousand refugees granting the Abdic fighters the right to enter the ranks of HVO.

However by that time the forces of Fikret Abdic were not representing their erstwhile might, having lost all in all, during two years, about a thousand men killed and several thousand as POWs and deserters, and that is why further on they did not play a significant role in the war; refugees , partially, have emigrated to third countries, and , partially, have remained in Croatia; a part of them have returned to Western Bosnia.

The 5th Corps itself has played a key role in the Serbian defeat in Bosnian Krajina in September-October of 1995, and in the beginning of October of 1995 it was located in a couple of dozen kilometers from Banja-Luka, having moved from Bihac more than a hundred kilometers across the Serbian territory.



1.»In encirclement“. Ramiz Drekovic, Zenica, 2004(«U obruču (Krajišnici i Hercegovci u borbama na dva fronta». Ramiz Dreković. Zenica 2004)

2. »Yugoslav Secret Police 1945-1995″ Marko Lopusina, Belgrade, 1997 (Jugoslovenska tajna policija 1945. — 1995. — Marko Lopušina, Beograd, 1997)

3.» Kraina’ gazias» Nijaz Veladzic. Bosnian community »Revival» Buzim(«Kraiške gazije».Nijaz Veladžic..Bošnjacka zajednica-«Preporod».Bužim http://www.zlatniljiljan.org)

4. »Nijaz Durakovic: Milosevic was a rigid bolshevik operated from nationalism» Sabina Cabaravdic »Radio Free Europe» 28.02.2008(“Nijaz Duraković: Milošević je bio rigidni boljševik operiran od nacionalizma”.Sabina Čabaravdić.”Radio Slobodna Evropa”.28.02.2008)