The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina began in February 1992 when the Muslim-dominated government declared independence from the former Yugoslavia and the Bosnian Serbs, supported and armed by Serbia, rebelled. The fight for territorial control has raged ever since, with the outgunned Bosnian government forces and the Muslim population suffering defeat after defeat while the world community struggled unsuccessfully to negotiate peace between the warring parties. Some 200,000 people have been killed or wounded in the conflict; more than a million have been displaced, many of them through so-called "ethnic cleansing" in which Muslim populations have been driven from their homes. In May, 1993, the U.N. declared six "safe areas" where Muslims would be protected by U.N. troops: Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Tuzla, Zepa, Bihac and Gorazde.
Since the beginning of this year: In January: 4-month truce declared; May: fighting resumes...NATO aircraft attack Serb positions...Serbs begin shelling "safe areas"...Serbs take U.N. soldiers hostage against further air attacks...European and U.S. leaders fear U.N. force may have to be withdrawn, prepare larger force to help withdrawal... June: Most UN hostages released by Serbs...Bosnian forces try to break Serb seige of Sarajevo...Serbs resume shelling the city; July: Serbs overrun Srebrenica "safe area" routing 20,000 Muslim women, children and old men ...thousands of Muslim men reach Tuzla "safe area" ...Serbs attack Zepa "safe area"...U.S. and NATO allies threaten "substantial and decisive response" if Serbs continue attacking "safe areas."