U.N. military commanders plan to deploy troops in a buffer zone north of Sarajevo in a bid to stop a successful Muslim-led Bosnian government army offensive and take the heat off Bosnian Serb forces, a U.N. spokesman said Monday.
"It is true there is a link between the Bosnian Serbs removing their heavy weapons from around Sarajevo and our proposal to insert Canadian troops between the warring parties in Vares," said U.N. Protection Force spokesman Maj. Rob Annink. "We want the heavy weapons out from around Sarajevo and our mission has always been to bring stability to the country."In recent days, the Bosnian Serbs fired mortars and artillery shells into Sarajevo, despite the NATO-imposed Feb. 27 ultimatum forbidding such action, Annink said.
Although Bosnian Serb military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic promised to remove the heavy weapons that surround Sarajevo, the Serbs have yet to comply.
The recent success of the Bosnian government army in the Vares area, 20 miles (32 km) north of Sarajevo, has U.N. officials worried about the stability of the rest of Bosnia-Herzegovina should the Bosnian offensive continue.
"Clearly the Serbs could retaliate in Sarajevo or any parts of the country," said UNPROFOR spokesman Maj. Dacre Holloway. "And that could create momentum that is counterproductive to the peace process."
With Sarajevo cut off from humanitarian and commercial convoys and the U.N. humanitarian airlift suspended, the foodstocks in the city are at a "critical" phase, said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Peter Kessler.