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Operation Mistral
Part of the Croatian War of Independence and the Bosnian War
1995 Croat and Bosniak Counteroffensives.jpg
Bosnian War situation in August–December 1995: Croatian gains during this time period (including Mistral) are light blue (contemporary Bosnian gains are light green)
DateSeptember 8–15, 1995
LocationWestern Bosnia and Herzegovina
Result Decisive Croatian and Bosnian victory
Belligerents

Croatia Croatian Army
Bosnia and Herzegovina Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia Croatian Defence Council


 NATO
Republika Srpska Army of Republika Srpska
Commanders and leaders
Croatia Ante Gotovina
Croatia Ivan Korade
Bosnia and Herzegovina Atif Dudaković
Bosnia and Herzegovina Mehmed Alagić
Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia Anton Luburić
Republika Srpska Ratko Mladić
Strength
4th Motorized and 7th Mechanized Brigade of the Croatian Army
5th and 7th Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina
3rd Brigade of the Croatian Defence Council
Units of the 2nd Krajina Corps of the VRS (3 motorized brigades, 5 infantry brigades, 5 light brigades and support units)
Elements of the 1st Krajina Corps of the VRS (Banja Luka Corps)
Casualties and losses
~443 soldiers killed[1] ~1,162 soldiers killed[1]
665 Serb civilians killed, 125,000 Serb civilians forced to flee[2]
Casualties represent total losses for each side during September, 1995



Operation Mistral (Bosnian and Croatian: Operacija Maestral named after the Mistral wind) were two linked military offensives of the Croatian Army, the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croatian Defence Council launched in Western Bosnia and Herzegovina during September 1995 as part of the Croatian War of Independence and the Bosnian War. It ended with a decisive victory for the Croatian and Bosnian forces.

At the same time, NATO began its bombings of Serb-held territory in (Operation Deliberate Force), which further demoralized and weakened the Serb position.

Background

Following successful operations during the Summer of 1995 and the August overtaking of Krajina during Operation Storm, Croatian forces crossed over into Bosnian territory to continue the pursuit of Serb forces which were routed after Storm.

Operation

Two elite Croatian brigades, which captured Knin during Storm, the 4th Guards Brigade and the 7th Guards Brigade, entered Bosnian territory and attacked north from the area around Bosansko Grahovo, which had been captured during the summer.

The first phase of the Operation (Maestral 1) began on 8 September and the first Serb lines were broken quickly. Opposing the Croatians were 7 light infantry brigades, one motorized brigade and two armored battalions of the Serb forces. The city of Šipovo fell quickly and the 7th Guards Brigade captured the strategically important mountain pass of Mliništa. Jajce was captured on 13 September and the first phase ended on that day at 18:00 hours, at which time about 2,000 square kilometers had changed hands.

Following this, began the second phase of the operation, Maestral 2, during which Drvar was captured on September 14, and the operation ended on 30 September. When it ended, only the city of Mrkonjić Grad remained between Croat forces and the Serb capital of Banja Luka. Mrkonjić Grad was captured soon after, during Operation Južni potez (8-12 Oct 1995.)

At the same time, the Fifth Corps of the Bosnian Army from Bihać, on the left wing of the Croatian advance, launched its own simultaneous offensive and captured Krupa, Bosanski Petrovac and Ključ and began advancing on Prijedor, located west of Banja Luka. Although such Bosnian actions were not part of Operation Maestral, the advancement of the two armies were coordinated as part of a general offensive in western Bosnia.

Aftermath

Following the collapse of Serb resistance in west Bosnia, Serb forces regrouped and launched a counteroffensive which was repulsed by Croat and Bosniak forces. This enabled the ARBiH's Fifth Corps to launch Operation Sana in October 1995, pushing further east; simultaneously Croat forces advanced further northeast.

The success of the Croat and Bosniak post-Storm offensives meant that the entire region of western Bosnia was now in their hands. The vital Serb center of Banja Luka was now a realistic next objective, whose capture would mean total defeat for Serb forces in Bosnia at the hands of the Croats and Bosniaks. This new situation finally convinced the Bosnian Serb leadership to agree to negotiate and the Dayton Agreement was reached only one month after Mistral, ending the Bosnian War.

See also

References

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