Biden Offers ‘Condolences’ for Civilians Killed in 1999 US Bombing of Serbia

US-Led Campaign Killed Around 500 Civilians

During a visit to Belgrade today, Vice president Joe Biden offered “condolences” for the Serbian civilians killed in the 1999 US-led NATO bombing of Serbia, a war which resulted in the US-backed secession of Kosovo from Serbia.

17 years after the campaign, Biden’s visit was aimed at getting Serbia to normalize relations with Kosovo, and marks the first time a high-ranking US official has made any offer of condolences for the substantial civilian death caused in the air war.

Though the exact figure remains hotly disputed, Human Rights Watch reported 90 confirmed incidents of civilian deaths, amounting to between 489-528 Serbian civilians. Three Chinese journalists were also killed in the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. There were also huge numbers of people wounded in the bombing campaign, with estimates in excess of 10,000.

Yugoslav officials claimed the death toll was far higher than the confirmed toll from HRW, putting the figure in excess of 1,200. NATO insisted all the killings were “legitimate” and that it was necessary “to defeat a great evil,” and that the cost of not killing the civilians would’ve been far higher.

Biden’s move comes just a year after NATO’s Secretary General visited Belgrade and similarly expressed “regret” about the civilians killed, though like Biden’s comments this was far short of an apology, and Stoltenberg defended the war as a “success.”

The civilian death toll has remained a source of tension between the NATO and Serbia, along with the continuing tension along the Serbia-Kosovar frontier. The secession of Kosovar left a substantial Serbian population inside north Kosovo, which the Kosovar government has persecuted and prevented from moving freely along the border with Serbia.

This war has played a big role in keeping Serbia neutral at a time when the rest of the region has been scrambling to join NATO. Polls have regularly shown very little interest among Serbians in joining NATO, and this might be driving the sudden interest among officials toward a rapprochement.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • EME

    Biden Offers ‘Condolences’ for Civilians Killed in 1999 US Bombing of Serbia
    US-Led Campaign Killed Around 500 Civilians…

    When Biden is through offering his ‘Condolences’ in Serbia, he should make
    a detour to Iraq, and offer ‘Condolences’ for the 1 million Iraqis the USG
    slaughtered in Bush’s illegal 2003 invasion which Biden likewise voted to give an idiot the ‘authority’ to destroy a country based on lies and misinformation.

    • TellTheTruth-2

      Maybe Biden should be pushing for the arrest of the war mongers that started those aggressive wars? That would be a REAL apology!

  • Gary Sellars

    Biden can take his “condolences” and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine. Insincere Uh’Murikkkan fother-mucker.

    • John Wells

      Have we paid reparations to China for killing three of their Embassy Staff?

  • Bastiat

    Biden’s condolences are just empty words. He supported the intervention in the Balkans that led to hundreds of unnecessary civilian deaths.

  • John Wells

    That was all part of the Beast’s co-Presidency. Just recently, the International Court totally exonerated Milosevic for the crimes for which he was being held and who died while in captivity. Remember the warmongering then? “The Beast of Belgrade”?

  • vietvet1968

    War-crimes!!!!

  • pinetree

    NATO is a US created criminal organization sponsoring foreign aims of the least desirable NEOCONS in our political establishment. We will expect the Clinton’s to continue bringing trouble to the World with the use of NATO.

  • Ross Vassilev

    The West becomes more disgusting by the month, it seems. Let’s hope that Western Civilization disappears soon enough.

    • YonLittleSwine

      What sort of civilization would you like to see it replaced with?

  • pinetree

    I can not believe that all the relatives in NYC of the people lost in 9/11 would not be in the for front for the banning any aid of any kind to the murderous Saudi Shieks with all the available evidence before them. How could they not care for those who were lost by those paying no price for their losses?