Battle at Brcko crucial for Muslims in Bosnia
Bosnian forces advance toward Brezovo Polje in hopes of freeing Bosnian Muslim civilians tortured in a Serbian-run concentration camp.
New Straits Times
14 October 1992.
Wan A. Hulaimi
LONDON, Tues. — News coming from Bosanski Brod, which reportedly “fell” to Serbian forces last week, reveal the extent of co-operation now existing between Belgrade and Zagreb after a meeting between their two presidents in Geneva to slice up Bosnia-Herzegovina at the expense of the Muslims [Bosniaks].
While the world’s Press reported a fierce battle between Serbs and the mainly Croatian forces defending Bosanski Brod, Muslim sources were accusing Zagreb of surrendering the town to the Serbs in exchange for the Konavle peninsula, south of Dubrovnik.
One confirmation of this came last Sunday from a reporter for the Observer newspaper who reported that the fight for Bosanski Brod was a “peculiar kind of battle.”
“We saw only three corpses and a few smoking ruins. There was even an untouched Croat tank in a copse. The refinery was largely intact,” the reporter added.
Bosanski Brod, across the river from the Croatian industrial town of Slavonski Brod, is important to the Serbs in their attempt to open a corridor across northern Bosnia to areas they have captured in the west.
For the muslims, whose Government is under siege in Sarajevo, and whose forces are defending towns scattered over Bosnia-Herzegovina, this development means that they can no longer rely on their Croatian allies, and might have to fight the battle on two fronts from now on.
After Bosanski Brod, Serbian forces will now most certainly advance towards Brcko, in the northeast where the predominantly Muslim 108th brigade have been holding on most successfully against all odds.
Last Tuesday, the brigade started a counter-offensive which brought them almost to the centre of the town, inflicting heavy losses on the Serbs and capturing a large quantity of light and heavy artillery.
From there they are advancing towards Brezovo Polje, 12 kilometres away, an area once noted for the quality of its fish but n ow notorious for its concentration camp where Muslims have been brutalised and killed.
Reports coming from the front said the brigade had managed to breach the Serbian corridor in the north for some 20km by capturing villages, among them Loncari and Grbavica.
Other reports said that Pelagicevo had also been liberated by the mostly Muslim Brigade 107 from Orasje with important gains in firearms and artillery.
The Serbs, now entrenched in Bosanski Brod, will be advancing towards Brcko in an attempt to rout the 108th brigade and secure the northern corridor which will effectively isolate the Muslims in the South.
Further south from Brcko is Tuzla, the administrative centre of the northeast region of Bosnia.
Here, there are nearly 600,000 Muslims who are well organised but lack food, weapons, and winter clothing.
Bosnian Muslims believe that the Battle at Brcko will be a decisive one which will determine whether they can still have hope of saving a free Bosnia-Herzegovina or they will perish under a new and more vicious programme of “ethnic cleansing.”