Eleventh monthly report to the United Nations Security Council on SFOR operations
- There are approximately 35,600 troops currently deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, with contributions from all the NATO nations and from 20 non-NATO countries. Over the reporting period (21 October-20 November), a modest number of temporary reinforcements deployed to the theatre in order to provide increased support to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) during the Republika Srpska Assembly elections, which were held on 22 and 23 November.
- Over the reporting period, SFOR continued to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance by means of ground and air patrols. A total of 2,750 sorties were flown by combat aircraft, with the SFOR helicopter fleet flying 131 hours.
- Support continues to be provided to the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), with SFOR maintaining its regular, coordinated training missions over Eastern Slavonia in order to exercise plans to conduct close air support if necessary.
- Over the reporting period, SFOR troops continued to secure the transmission towers used by Srpska Radio Television (SRT) at Udrigovo, Duga Nijva and Veliki Zep in Multi-National Division North, and at Mount Trebevic and Leotar in Multi-National Division South-East. SRT transmission links into the eastern part of the Republika Srpska, which had been interrupted because of the apparent sabotage of the Veliki Zep tower on 18 September, were re-established by SFOR on 31 October by means of satellite links at the Udrigovo, Trebevic and Leotar towers, with a back-up system installed during the first week of November.
- On 15 November, approximately 100 people took part in a demonstration at the Trebevic tower directed against the SFOR troops securing the facility, and demanded that they relinquish control of the tower. The demonstration was peaceful, and dispersed without incident after approximately 3 hours. At the same time, in apparent coordination with the demonstration, civilian buses, cars and taxis blocked traffic in the vicinity of SFOR's Butimir compound, near Sarajevo. This demonstration also dispersed without incident after 3 hours.
- As a result of the actions of the Republika Srpska Police AntiTerrorist Brigade in Banja Luka on 8 and 9 September (see the ninth monthly report (S/1997/794, annex, appendix, para. 7)), and the subsequent failure of the Republika Srpska political authorities adequately to explain those actions, SFOR troops entered the Republika Srpska Specialist Police Unit in Doboj on 10 November and confiscated a total of 10 long-barrelled rifles, 101 pistols and 24,617 rounds of ammunition, together with 9 vehicles, communications equipment and files, and de-certified the officers assigned to the Unit. Although only 10 Specialist Police officers were present when the SFOR troops arrived, the Commander of the Police Anti-Terrorist Brigade instructed the remaining officers to return to the Unit, which they did over the following three days. During this time, SFOR encountered no resistance. All specialist police from the Unit were de-certified for a period of 180 days, and the Unit will remain non- operational for six months while the International Police Task Force (IPTF) conducts a police re-training programme. A review will take place in 90 days.
- On 13 November, the SFOR Deputy Commander for Operations and the IPTF Commander met with Minister Paleksic, General Saric (Police Anti-Terrorist Brigade Commander) and General Borovcanin (local police commander) with the aim of providing direction for the restructuring of the Republika Srpska Specialist Police. The Bosnian Serb officials indicated their willingness to cooperate fully with IPTF and the restructuring programme. On 20 November, SFOR and IPTF officials reached an agreement with Republika Srpska representatives on the future role of a new police force, to be integrated into the civilian structure, and on a force development concept. A schedule for re-certification of Specialist Police officers is now being developed.
Cooperation and compliance by the parties
- The parties remain generally compliant with most military aspects of the Peace Agreement across the whole area of operations.
- During the reporting period, SFOR inspected 513 military weapons storage sites: 176 Bosniacs; 150 Bosnian Croat; 186 Bosnian Serb; and 1 Federation. The following weapons were confiscated: from the Bosniacs, 2 heavy machine guns, 61 OSA rockets and 26,136 rounds of ammunition; from the Bosnian Croats, 3 rocket-propelled grenades and 1 SAGGER missile; and from the Bosnian Serbs 1 M80 grenade launcher, 1 M55 air defence weapon, 2 SA7s and 24 M71 rocket launchers. The parties are on track to reduce the number of storage sites by 25 per cent no later than 20 December, as required by SFOR.
- SFOR continues to support the inspections by IPTF of local police stations and over the reporting period confiscated the following weapons: from the Federation, 18 grenades, 1 anti-tank mine, 11 long-barrelled weapons, 62 rifles, 15 pistols and 2 mortar rounds; and from the Republika Srpska, 148 grenades, 12 anti-personnel mines, 5 anti-tank mines, 16 long-barrelled weapons, 3 rifles, 18 pistols and 1 mortar round. All these confiscated weapons will be destroyed, after a period of time to allow for appeals.
- Over the reporting period, 2 illegal checkpoints were dismantled by IPTF with SFOR support: on 22 October, an illegal Serb checkpoint was dismantled 5 km north of Pale; and on 12 November an illegal checkpoint manned by two Federation policemen was dismantled near Sarajevo.
- SFOR continues to monitor the movement of displaced persons and refugees, much of which is taking place across the Inter-Entity Boundary Line. However, with the onset of winter, no significant number of returns is now likely to take place before the spring.
- Over the reporting period, SFOR monitored a total of 611 training and movement activities: 308 by the Bosniacs; 111 by the Bosnian Croats; 7 by the Federation; and 185 by the Bosnian Serbs. Two training and movement bans which had been in place were lifted (see S/1997/893, annex, appendix, para. 15). The ban on the 820th Bosniac Brigade was lifted on 30 October, and that on the 7th Bosnian Serb Army Corps on 2 November. However, on 14 November, having exceeded the time allotted for radar maintenance training, the Bosnian Serb Air Force was banned from conducting radar maintenance at Zaluzani, which had been programmed for the following week.
- Owing to the Republika Srpska Assembly elections on 22 and 23 November, a theatre-wide general training and movement ban was put into effect from 19 to 26 November.
- Over the reporting period, Entity personnel, under SFOR supervision, removed 2,515 explosive devices from a total of 690 mined areas: 254 anti-tank mines; 2,190 anti-personnel mines; and 71 items of unexploded ordnance. No bans were imposed for non-compliance with the counter mine campaign and the Entity Armed Forces have improved their mine-clearing activities, with a continued willingness to achieve the scheduled activities despite the winter weather conditions. SFOR is now working with OSCE and Parties on a plan to convert a number of T-55 tanks into mine rollers.
Cooperation with international organizations
- Within its capabilities, SFOR continues to provide assistance to the international organizations in theatre, and supports the work of IPTF, as noted above, the Office of the High Representative, OSCE and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
- SFOR supported OSCE during the conduct of the Republika Srpska Assembly elections on 22 and 23 November through the provision of a robust force, with modest reinforcements, to ensure increased security during the polling period, and through the provision of significant logistics support, such as the transportation of ballots and other election materials. SFOR also provided personnel to the OSCE/SFOR Joint Elections Operations Centre.
- SFOR continues to participate fully in the OSCE Election Results Implementation Committees which were set up at national and regional levels following the September municipal elections. In addition, SFOR is providing appropriate support to implementation activities, including through the provision of area security when necessary.
- SFOR continues to support the implementation of the article IV Sub-Regional Arms Control Agreement. With the end of the Phase II reduction period on 31 October 1997, the parties began their first round of the fourmonth-long Residual Level Validation Period. At the start of this period, SFOR conducted an inspection of all cantonment sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina and, in line with established practice, transmitted its data to the appropriate officials in Vienna.
- SFOR continues to work with the Office of the High Representative towards the opening up of the regional airports in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 18 November, Banja Luka airport was opened for commercial air traffic at a formal opening ceremony attended by President Plavsic, the SFOR Commander and representatives of the Office of the High Representative. Further work is in hand to prepare the Mostar and Tuzla airfields for opening.
- While isolated acts of intimidation and violence may occur as a result of the Republika Srpska Assembly elections, the overall situation in the theatre is expected to remain stable. NATO is now in the process of conducting the 12-month review of SFOR operations, in consultation with the non-NATO SFOR contributors.