|Updated: 8 May 1999||Background Briefings|
8 May 1999
by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea
I would like to begin by stating that NATO did not intentionally target the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade last night.
The planned target was the Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement in Belgrade but the wrong building was attacked. This was a terrible accident.
NATO deeply regrets loss of life, injuries to Chinese diplomatic personnel or to any other innocent civilians present in the Embassy at the time. We also regret damage to the Embassy.
Many Allies are currently in touch with the Chinese authorities in Beijing to express their sympathy and condolences to them, and also to the families of the victims.
I want to stress that Operation Allied Force will continue. And we will continue with the same concern to minimise harm to civilians. NATO never intentionally targets civilians. The overwhelming majority of our targets are military targets, all of them indeed are military targets, and the overwhelming majority of our strikes are accurate. We will do everything in our power to keep it this way.
We will continue NATO's air operations because it is both right and necessary to keep the pressure up on President Milosevic and the Serb leadership until such time as they meet the 5 essential conditions of the international community.
Despite last night's accident, we cannot lose sight of the fundamental purpose of NATO's actions.
It is to stop these horrors that NATO has resorted to the use of force. In total contrast to NATO, President Milosevic has used his armed forces to deliberately victimise and expel part of his own population. We cannot, and will not, allow this to stand.
But I want to stress also that NATO will continue to support all the diplomatic efforts to resolve the Kosovo crisis on the basis of our 5 key conditions. These diplomatic efforts have produced good results this week. It is important that they move ahead without interruption.
I would like to remind the people of Yugoslavia that we carefully select targets that are directly related to President Milosevic's political and leadership apparatus; the military and paramilitary forces that he has deployed in Kosovo; and his ability to support his continued campaign of repression. One man is responsible for the Kosovo tragedy: President Milosevic.
If you consider the list of targets that NATO aircraft struck last night and in the most concentrated attack to date, you will see that our focus was wholly on disrupting the national leadership of the military and special police operations in Kosovo. NATO targeted the Dobanovci Command Complex. Above ground, this is one of the residences used by President Milosevic. Underground, it houses a major bunker complex. NATO had information that suggested that this is now the centre of Milosevic's high command, following the destruction and damage done to other command facilities in Belgrade and the Avala bunker complex.
We also struck last night the Hotel Jugoslavia, which is a location being used as a barracks for Arkan's Tigers in Belgrade and as an alternate Headquarters for the MUP special police forces. The hotel has long been under Arkan's control. He owned the casino as well as the sports club. Since the air campaign began, his forces took over the whole building and have used it as a Command and Control Centre for the operations in Kosovo.
Other targets last night included:
Also, to confuse and degrade command, control and communications systems NATO targeted electrical power transformer yards at Belgrade stations 3, 5, and 8 and at Obrenovac.
Finally, let me inform you that the North Atlantic Council will meet today at half past twelve to consult on the current situation in Kosovo and there will be another briefing this afternoon.
I can take just a few questions because I have to go to a meeting with the Secretary General at half past eleven.
Craig Whitney, New York Times:
Jamie can you explain to us a little more what happened? How close is the Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement to the Chinese Embassy and how was the mistake made? Did the planners or the targeters have the wrong information about which building was which, did the pilot point at the wrong building, did the FAC (Forward Air Controller) make the mistake, do you have any of those answers?