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U.S. to set up military hospital in former Yugoslavia

Published Oct. 12, 2005

The United States said Thursday it will send a military hospital to the former Yugoslavia to support U.N. peacekeeping troops. The facility will be set up near Zagreb, the Croatian capital, not in the war-torn Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.

The Defense Department said the mobile hospital and about 300 military personnel would be sent from the U.S. military command in Europe.

"Full details on when it will be sent and exactly where it will be located still have to be worked out," a Pentagon official said.

But he said the hospital would be near peaceful Zagreb in Croatia and would be used to treat injured members of the 14,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force protecting humanitarian aid efforts in war-torn former Yugoslavia.

Defense officials also said that some U.S. military ground transportation had been requested by the U.N. peacekeepers and would be sent. They would not be more specific.

President Bush has offered protective U.S. air power for the aid effort but has expressed strong reluctance to send ground troops into the region as part of the U.N. force.

Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney have stressed that the region is no place for U.S. ground forces because there would be no clear target or enemy if those troops were fired on.

In northern Bosnia on Thursday, Serb rebels pounded government-held towns with "destructive howitzer shells, particularly incendiary ones," and attacked them by air, Bosnian radio said.

The fighting followed a major Serb victory late Tuesday, when Serb units overran Bosanski Brod, once thought firmly in the control of Bosnian loyalists.

The city's capture means Serb fighters now control 70 percent of Bosnia. The Serbs apparently are trying to gain more territory before they are forced to dig in for the winter.

Serb advances prompted warnings of possible military intervention from abroad.

Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency said the country's Revolutionary Guards were ready to help Bosnia's "defenseless Muslims." It quoted the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying that "if Western governments are unable to stop the massacre of Muslims there, then they should allow our young Muslim combatants to give the Serbs their dues."

NATO's secretary-general, Manfred Woerner, said that if the United Nations decided military intervention was warranted, the alliance likely would follow suit.

At the United Nations, diplomats said the Security Council would approve a resolution today banning military flights over Bosnia in an effort to stop Serb air attacks. But they said there would be no immediate authorization of military action against planes violating the no-fly zone.

More than 14,000 people have been killed in Bosnia since Serbs set out to crush the independence drive of majority Muslims and Croats.