Behind the Serbian Lines

Braving the trenches, a TIME correspondent discovers why the Serbs will not give up one foot of the land they have taken -- and why it will be so difficult to defeat them

Suddenly, sniper bullets spit into the dirt along the top of the trench. Down below the ridge, plum orchards in spring bloom conceal the Muslim lines. Exploding artillery shells trigger small avalanches along the rain-loosened earth walls. A young Serb slides into the trench, out of breath from his dash across a meadow of buttercups pocked by mortar craters. He has a question to ask that is important enough to risk his life. "Why does the world want to destroy us?" he wants to know. "We are victims too."

The fighters call this the "bicycle path," a narrow strip of bitterly...

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