Milosevic's Attack Raises the Stakes

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Slobodan Milosevic tried to raise the stakes on day three of NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia, as both sides looked for cracks in the other's resolve. NATO shot down two MiG-29's over Bosnia Friday, in what appeared to be a Serb attempt to attack NATO ground forces stationed there. "This looks like an act of frustration," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "He's holding back his surface-to-air missiles and may be trying to find a way to hit back, but there's very little he can do." In Kosovo, meanwhile, further atrocities against ethnic Albanian civilians were reported as Serb forces continued a fierce offensive against the Kosovo Liberation Army. "None of what NATO has done so far is going to stop any ethnic cleansing in Kosovo," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "To do that would require a NATO escalation, and eventually, possibly even ground troops." Milosevic appears to be betting that a sustained campaign with mounting casualties will see growing dissent inside NATO -- already Greece has called for an end to the bombing, and Italy has urged restraint.

NATO commander General Wesley Clark on Friday warned Milosevic that NATO's next objective was the systematic elimination of Serb fighting units in Kosovo. That would involve knocking out armor and artillery units in low-flying ground attacks. "While such a strategy would help give the poorly armed KLA a fighting chance to hold off the Serb offensive, it carries great risks," says Dowell. "It demands that planes fly in low over hilly terrain. Pilots may be lost and rescue teams put in the line of fire." This looks set to get worse before it gets better.

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