In the most significant battle in weeks, a coordinated Serb-Croat force wrested key territory from government troops Friday and left a major Muslim stronghold open to attack.
Thousands of refugees were reported streaming from the battle zone in north-central Bosnia. Soldiers of Bosnia's lightly armed Muslim-led army cried describing their inability to combat the tanks of their Serb enemy.U.N. officials in Vitez said a twin-pronged attack by Bosnian Croats and Serbs overran Zepce to the northeast. The fall of Zepce opened the way for Serbs and Croats to advance on the city of Zenica, 20 miles to the south.
Zenica is one of the few major towns in Bosnia still under government control and is flooded with refugees from previous fighting in central Bosnia in recent months.
The fall of Zepce also threatened to cut off Tesanj and Maglaj to the north, which would trap Muslims in two new pockets.
The effectiveness of the new Serb-Croat alliance in central Bosnia underlined the precarious position of government troops. A U.N. embargo has banned arms sales to all the combatants, but the army of Serb-dominated Yugoslavia gave Bosnian Serbs heavy weapons after Bosnia seceded 16 months ago.