Updated: 1 May 1999 Morning Briefings


1 May 1999

Morning Briefing

by Mr Peter Daniel

Peter Daniel: Good morning! As most of you probably know, Jamie is enjoying a day's vacation and a well-deserved one at that. I'll be here again this afternoon at 3 o'clock with Colonel Freytag to do the regular briefing. I'm sorry that I'm a bit late this morning but it takes me a bit longer to put this together than Jamie who has been doing it every day for about six weeks.

I talked to General Clark this morning and basically what I'm going to tell you comes from that conversation.

Two nights ago, we attacked the brains behind the brutality in Belgrade and yesterday we went after the nervous system that keeps the Milosevic machine informed and in touch. NATO forces pounded transmission towers and control buildings of the Yugoslav radio relay network in seven different locations. The military radio relay network is essential to Milosevic's ability to direct and control the repressive activities of his army and special police forces in Kosovo. This radio network is also a key element in the Yugoslav air-defence network.

In the same period, the forces attacked seven bridges that provide key lines of communication between the Serb forces on the field in Kosovo and the rest of the Yugoslav military. Every day, because of this Milosevic is less and less able to stay in touch with his forces and keep them supplied. We also attacked the complete range of fielded forces in Kosovo, including tanks, armoured vehicles, mortar positions and command posts, we will provide of course more details about this with the locations at the 3 o'clock briefing this afternoon.

For the second 24-hour period in a row, NATO aircraft flew over 600 sorties. We will continue to keep the pressure on and turn up the pace.

Finally, I want to tell you that all NATO aircraft returned safely to base.

Question: Where do things stand with the sea embargo negotiation

Peter Daniel: That matter is being discussed still in the Military Committee and when that discussion is completed, I'll be prepared to address the issue.

Question: Anything new on the research by mutual countries to bring assistance to IDPs within Kosovo?

Peter Daniel: As you know, this is one of the avenues that are being explored in order to try to get humanitarian assistance to the IDPs in Kosovo. Some assistance is getting to these people through a Greek NGO, there were two convoys this week, I believe, that crossed into Kosovo but other than that particular organisation, so far the government in Belgrade has not seen fit to grant permission to any other non-governmental organisation to have assistance reach these people.

Question: Do you have information on the conversations between Robin Cook and Bonino... rest inaudible.

Peter Daniel: We have no information on that, we know that there were two convoys that crossed this week.

Question: Can you confirm

Peter Daniel: I did not say that. I said that we know that two convoys crossed into Kosovo this week, I think in one were up to a dozen trucks from this Greek non-governmental organisation. I did not say and I cannot confirm as to exactly where this material and assistance was rendered and to whom.

Question Nick Childs (BBC): You said you were going after the nervous system this time round. Did you actually attack any targets in and around Belgrade itself and if not, was there any particular reason for that, for example the visit of Mr. Chernomyrdin? Peter Daniel: No. There were targets attacked in the Belgrade vicinity and we can give you details of that at 3 o'clock.

Question: We had news that the weather conditions were not as good as NATO had expected last night and that strikes were concentrated on Belgrade and surroundings. Can you confirm that.

Peter Daniel: The strikes were all over the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in particular in Kosovo and there were weather problems, there were thunderstorms in the Belgrade area and there was low cloud in some regions of the country.

Jake Lynch (Sky News): What makes NATO suppose that the plans that the Yugoslav Army has for these operations in Kosovo depend on being co-ordinated from a center.

Peter Daniel: First of all, an army lives and breathes, needs fuel, needs food, needs re-supply, needs munitions if it's expending it and when we talk about the nervous system it has quite a number of branches to it, it has the communications branch; there is of course the fuel and the other supplies and some of these things they have to go over roads, they have to cross bridges, they have to reach their destinations and these are the sort of panoply of things that we're hitting which makes it more and more difficult to keep this as a viable force in the field and he cannot count on re-supplying these forces as one would suppose in a regular situation; they are running short, we, I think, told you of reports that we've received of fuel shortages and other problems that they're having in the field and also it would be same as you, if you could not communicate back with your news desk in London, I think you'd be in some degree of difficulty, you may be able to do without it for a few hours and send your report out and hope that it gets received but I think after some space of time you would need to communicate with your command central as it is or you would be directionless out there or here at NATO as the case is now in trying to report on this story and knowing what the rest of your organisation is doing and how you're fitting into the whole effort on reporting on this story. This is an analogy I'm giving you that I think is probably transposed into the military area, pretty well what is happening.

Question: We have also got reports that a missile went astray and fell close to a hospital. Do you have information on this?

Peter Daniel: I've seen some reports on the incident that you mention but we'll have further information on that this afternoon. I understand also, according to the reports I've seen, that there were no injuries in that particular incident.

Question (Fox News): Were the Apaches involved at all in the last 24 hours and do you have anything to report on the various diplomatic efforts that have been undertaken?

Peter Daniel: As to the Apaches, the answer is a simple "No". On your second question, as you know, Mr. Chirnomyrdin has left Belgrade and gone back to Moscow and there are reports that he will be travelling to London and Paris some time next week. You heard our response along with the response of other capitals to the so-called 7-point plan put out by the Yugoslavs yesterday afternoon, that this was not a serious effort, not worthy of consideration and really doesn't come anywhere near the five conditions that the international community have set down for a settlement to the conflict.

Question: Another question on the nervous system. You say that you've been attacking transmission towers... It seems that the communication system of the military is very redundant in Serbia and that they are using microwave and IT(?)cell phones. Are you targeting such civilian installations as well?

Peter Daniel: We are targeting transmission towers that can be used by the military and that we know are being used by the military to communicate.

Question: Microwave antennas and cell phone antennas, are these part of your targets.

Peter Daniel: Some transmission facilities have dual purpose and where they do have dual purpose and one of their dualities is the military, then we are attacking them, yes.

Question: Philippe Rater AFP: Vous avez dit que au cours des dernieres 24 heures il y a eu 600 sorties d'avions comme le jour prcdent, or les rapports des agences de presse sur le terrain on l'air de dire que les dernires 24 heures ont t moins intensives que les jours prcdents. Est-ce qu'ils restent des cibles viser en Serbie?

Peter Daniel: Je peux vous assurer qu'ils restent des cibles et en ce qui concerne le chiffre de 600 et les dtails derrire ce chiffre, nous allons vous les prsenter 3 heures dans le briefing militaire.

Inaudible additional Question:...

Peter Daniel: Dans les derniers 24 heures. Je parle seulement, quand on vient le matin, des derniers 24 heures.

Peter Daniel: If there is no-one else, thank you very much. I'll be back at 3 o'clock.

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