War in Bosnia: Timeline

Original Timeline appropriated from Kristina Lerman


Croatia and Slovenia declare their independence from the Yugoslav Federated Republic. In Croatia ethnic Serbs and Croats begin a long, bloody conflict. UN imposes arms embargo on all members of the former Yugoslav Republic, including Bosnia.

April 1992

Nationalist Serb snipers fire on peaceful demonstrators in Sarajevo, marking the beginning of the war. Bosnian Serb soldiers are formally discharged from the Yugoslav army, but allowed to keep all of their weapons.

May 1992

The West recognizes Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state. A mortar shell fired from a Serb position in the hills of Sarajevo kills 16 people waiting in line for bread. UN imposes sanctions on Serb-led Yugoslavia.

Summer 1992

reports of "ethnic cleansing," a policy of slaughtering Muslim inhabitants of towns or driving them away, in order to create an ethnically pure region. Reports of concentration camps, mass rapes.

Winter 1992-93

Gas, water and electricity service are at best sporadic in Sarajevo. UN humanitarian convoys to Muslim enclaves in central Bosnia crowded with refugees are blocked by Serb forces leading to acute shortages of food, fuel, and medicine there. UN declares several Bosnian cities "safe havens" to no one's relief. Pres. Clinton orders humanitarian aid and food to be air-lifted to those places.


Many cease fires are broken. Vance-Owen peace treaty is first accepted by Milosevic and Karadzic, then rejected by the Bosnian Serb Parliament. Other peace treaties based on dividing Bosnia along ethnic lines are negotiated, rejected, then renegotiated. Croatians, originally fighting with the Muslims against the Serbs, start their own "ethnic cleansing" campaign.


Mortar barrages on Sarajevo lighten up, and Serbs withdraw from some strategic positions, when US and NATO threaten air strikes. Firing resumes when it becomes obvious that no action will be taken.

Fall 1993

Bosnian Government army makes some territorial gains against Croatian separatists, reputedly with the arms supplied by the Serbs. Both Yugoslav and Croatian army regulars are observed fighting in Bosnia. The breakaway Serb republic of Bosnia orders a general mobilization among all the Bosnian Serb refugees, planning for an all out assault that will lead to the end of war.

January 1994

France, which has the most UN troops in Bosnia, calls for NATO to use air strikes to relieve the humanitarian crisis in Bosnia. French philosopher, Bernard-Henri Levi, and other intellectuals start a party "Europe Begins at Sarajevo", for the elections for the European Parliament. The party's only platform is that Europe's humanity and civility is challenged by its inactivity in the Bosnia crisis.

February 4, 1994

The market place massacre, which leaves 68 people dead and over 200 wounded in Sarajevo ignites public outcry against this and other atrocities leading NATO to issue ultimatum for Serbs to withdraw their artillery to 20 km from Sarajevo, and for all warring parties to hand over their heavy weapons to UN observers.

Summer 1994

Bosnian Government army makes successful advances against separatist Serbs, recapturing some of the territory around Bihac, in Bosnia's North-East corner.

Fall 1994

Cease fire around Sarajevo is spotty, but holding. Bosnian Serb forces are reinforced by Croatian Serb forces from the neighboring Krajina region, press against Bosnian governemnt, re-recapturing the region around Bihac. Bihac is shelled and bombed relentlessly. NATO "strikes back" and bombs the runways in the Serb held airport in Krajina from which bombing raids are flown. Serbs hold over 300 UN troops hostage against further air raids.

December 1994

Former US President Jimmy Carter flies to Sarajevo to negotiate a 4 month cease fire with the warring parties. Cease fire does not affect Croat Serbs who continue the siege of Bihac.

January 28, 1995

1000th day of the siege of Sarajevo.

February, 1995

Cease fire violations by Bosnian Serbs are increasingly common. UN monitors observe helicopters crossing from Serbia to Bosnia, presumably to resupply the Bosnian Serb positions, a breach of promise by Serbia's president Milosevic to put Bosnian Serbs under an internal embargo. Pres. Tudjman of Croatia asks for U.N. preacekeepers' withdrawal from Krajina, a hotly contested region in Croatia occupied mainly by Serbs. Fears of renewed fighting when U.N. withdraws in the spring of 1995 are ignited.

February 13, 1995

United Nations tribunal on human rights violation in the Balkans charges 21 Bosnian Serb commanders with genocide and crimes against humanity. This action marks the first time that a Western political body openly charged Serbs with genocide.

February 15 - 22, 1995

Under the pressures from European allies, U.S. agrees to loosed economic sanctions against Yugoslavia, in return for Pres. Milosevic's recognition of territorial integrity of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Milosevic refuses.

March 9, 1995

According to New York Times, a CIA report completed earlier in the year has concluded that 90% of the acts of "ethnic cleansing" were carried out by Serbs and that leading Serbian politicians almost certainly played a role in the crimes. The report is believed to be the most comprehensive United States assessment of the atrocities in Bosnia.