The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs

The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs

Jacob Miller - August 7, 2018

The Bosnian War was an armed conflict that took place between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The main actors were Bosnian and Herzegovinian forces, the Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian Croats, the Republika Srpska, and the Herzeg-Bosnia.

The war came as part of the dissolution of Yugoslavia. After Slovenia and Croatia seceded from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991, the multicultural Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina passed a referendum for independence as well in 1992.

Bosnia, at the time, was comprised of 44 percent Muslim Bosniaks, 32.5 percent Orthodox Serbs, and 17 percent Catholic Croats. The Bosnian Orthodox Serbs rejected the referendum. The Bosnian Serbs, led by Radovan Karadzic and supported by the Serbian Government and the Yugoslav People’s Army, gathered forces to secure ethnic Serb territory called the Republika Srpska.

The Bosnian War was marked by widespread violence, the destruction of towns and cities, and ethnic cleansings committed predominantly by the Serbs.

The Siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare, lasting from April 5, 1992, until February 29, 1996. The city was first attacked by the Yugoslav People’s Army, and then by the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska. Nearly 14,000 people were killed during the siege.

Despite the Serbs early victories, they eventually lost momentum as the Bosniaks and Croats allied against the Republika Srpska after the Washington Agreement, which established a ceasefire between the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the unrecognized Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia. After Pakistan defied the United Nations embargo on arms to the region by supplying missiles to the Bosnian Muslims, NATO intervened.

By 2008, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia convicted 45 Serbs, 12 Croats, and 4 Bosniaks of war crimes. Recent estimates say that around 100,000 people were killed in the war and 2.2 million were displaced. An estimated 12,000-20,000 women were raped, mostly Bosniak women.

The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic (right) and General Ratko Mladic speak to reporters on November 4, 1992. Reuters
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
The sole survivor of a massacre finds his home in ruins after the Bosnian army recaptured his village from Serb forces in the fall of 1995. He is standing on what is believed to be a mass grave of 69 people, including his family. Ron Haviv
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Bosnian Muslims pose for a picture. Ron Haviv / VII
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Bosnian soldiers smoke and take a break on the front line next to a sign that says, “Welcome to Sarajevo” in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in the fall of 1994. Trench warfare took place all around the city.
Ron Haviv / VII
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Bosnian woman visits her husband’s grave in a cemetery in Bihac, Bosnia, that is filled with people who were killed during the Bosnian war.
Ron Haviv / VII
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Bosnian and Croatian prisoners of war at the prison camp in Trnopolje, Bosnia, 1992. All sides of the Bosnian conflict ran prison camps, where many people were killed. Several commanders were later indicted for war crimes as a result. Ron Haviv / VII
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Serb man attempts to put out a fire that was caused by Serb arsonists in the Sarajevo suburb Grbavica, Bosnia, 1996. The arsonists were trying to force the man to leave the city rather than let him stay under the Muslim-led Bosnian government.
Ron Haviv / VII
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Muslim in Bijelina, Bosnia begs for his life after capture by Arkan’s Tigers in the spring of 1992.
Ron Haviv / VII
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
During the Bosnian War, cellist Vedran Smailovic plays Strauss inside the bombed-out National Library in Sarajevo, on September 12, 1992. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A former sniper position on the slopes of Mount Trebevic gives a view of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, seen on April 2, 2012. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Bosnian special forces soldier returns fire in downtown Sarajevo as he and civilians come under fire from Serbian snipers, on April 6, 1992. The Serbs were shooting from the roof of a hotel at a peace demonstration of some of 30,000 people as fighting between Bosnian and Serb fighters escalated in the capital of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Serbian soldier takes cover by a burning house in the village of Gorica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, on October 12, 1992 AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Smoke and flames rise from houses set on fire by heavy fighting between Bosnian Serbs and Muslims in the village of Ljuta on Mount Igman some 40km southwest from the besieged Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, on July 22, 1993. Reuters
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Muslim militiaman looks for snipers during a battle with the Yugoslav federal army in Central Sarajevo on Saturday, May 2, 1992. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Bosnian Croat soldiers taken as prisoners pass a Bosnian Serb soldier after surrendering on the central Bosnian mountain of Vlasic June 8. About 7,000 Croat civilians and some 700 soldiers fled to Serb-held territories under heavy Muslim attack. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Serbian soldier beats a captured Muslim militiaman during an interrogation in the Bosnian town of Visegrad, 125 miles southwest of Belgrade, on June 8, 1992. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
122mm heavy artillery of the Bosnian government, in position near Sanski Most, 10 miles (15 kilometers), east of Banja Luka, opens fire at the Serb-controlled town of Prijedor, on October 13, 1995. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
19) A woman, standing between markers of fresh graves in a Sarajevo cemetery, mourns over the grave of a dead relative in the early morning, on January 17, 1993. More people came to visit graves of friends and relatives as the dense fog protected them from sniper fire. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Seven-year-old Nermin Divovic lies mortally wounded in a pool of blood as unidentified American and British U.N. firefighters arrive to assist after he was shot in the head in Sarajevo Friday, November 18, 1994. The boy was shot and killed by a sniper firing from an apartment building into the Sarajevo city center, along Sarajevo’s notorious Sniper Alley. The U.N. firefighters were at his side almost immediately, but the boy died outright. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A top sniper, codenamed “Arrow,” loads her gun in a safe room in Sarajevo, Tuesday, June 30, 1992. The 20-year old Serb who shoots for the Bosnian forces says she has lost count of the number of people she has killed, but that she finds it difficult to pull the trigger. The former journalism student says most of her targets are other snipers on the Serbian side. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Rockets explode on Sarajevo downtown center, closed to the Cathedral, on June 5, 1992. Heavy shelling and fighting raged throughout the Bosnian capital overnight. Sarajevo radio said all parts of the city were hit by heavy artillery, leaving at least three people dead and 10 injured in the Muslim stronghold of Hrasnica, which faces the Southwest side of the airport. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Bosnian man cradles his child as they and others run past one of the worst spots for snipers that pedestrians have to pass in Sarajevo, on April 11, 1993. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Participants in the Miss Besieged Sarajevo 93 beauty pageant line up on stage holding a banner reading, Don’t Let Them Kill Us in front of a packed audience in Sarajevo, on May 29, 1993. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Bloodstains cover the wreckage of patients’ rooms at Sarajevo’s Kosevo Hospital on June 16, 1995, after a shell slammed into it killing two and injuring six. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Two prisoners sit on the ground during a visit of journalists and members of the Red Cross in a Serb camp in Tjernopolje, near Prijedor northwest Bosnia, on August 13, 1992. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A French U. N. soldier sets up barbed wire in one of the U. N. compounds in Sarajevo, Friday, July 21, 1995. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
On her way home in afternoon on Thursday, April 8, 1993, in Sarajevo, a Bosnian woman rushes down an empty sidewalk past war-destroyed shops in one of the worst sections of the so-called Sniper Alley. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
French troops of the United Nations patrol in front of the destroyed mosque of Ahinici, near Vitez, northwest of Sarajevo, on April 27, 1993. This Muslim town was destroyed during fighting between Croatian and Muslim forces in central Bosnia. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Smoke rises from an ammunition depot in Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale, some 16 km (10 miles) east of Sarajevo, on August 30, 1995, after NATO air strikes. NATO jets went after Serb ammunition and radar sites as well as command and communication centers throughout Bosnia to eliminate threats to UN safe zones. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Children look up at fighter jets enforcing the no-fly-zone over Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina, on May 12, 1993. AP Photo

The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A father’s hands press against the window of a bus carrying his tearful son and wife to safety from the besieged city of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War on November 10, 1992. Getty Images
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A disused tank standing at a crossroad in front of a ruined building in the Kovacici district in Sarajevo February 1996. Reuters
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A man carrying a bag of firewood across a destroyed bridge near the burnt library in Sarajevo, on January 1, 1994. Reuters
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Bosnian teenager carrying containers of water in front of destroyed trams at Skenderia Square in the besieged Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, on June 22, 1993. Reuters
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Refugees from the overrun U.N. safe haven enclave of Srebrenica who had spent the night outdoors, gathering outside the U.N. base at Tuzla airport, on July 14, 1995. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Survivors of the Serb attack on Srebrenica learn of the fall of the United Nations safe haven, Tuzla, Bosnia, 1995. More than 7,000 Bosnian men were killed and tens of thousands were forced to flee during the attack.
Ron Haviv / VII
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A US F14 tomcat fighter takes off on a patrol over Bosnia, on September 4 from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Reuters
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Helicopter pilots in full flying kit on board HMS Invincible during Operation ‘Grapple’, the British military deployment in support of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), the UN’s peacekeeping force in Bosnia. Invincible sailed for the Adriatic in July 1993 to relieve HMS Ark Royal and remained in theatre until December. On 20 September 1993, the ship hosted unsuccessful warring parties’ peace talks, involving Thorvald Stoltenborg, the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
The arrival of British forces in Bosnia at the start of Operation ‘Grapple’. A column of Warrior armored fighting vehicles belonging to ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment, moves up from Split, Croatia through a winter landscape to the UN operating base at Vitez, Bosnia. The Warriors are painted in the high visibility white color scheme identifying UNPROFOR vehicles. The proximity of Serbian forces rendered the main route to Vitez unsafe and the first priority for British troops on deployment was to identify alternative routes through the difficult terrain. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
‘Juliet’, the Warrior IFV (infantry fighting vehicle) used by Colonel Bob Stewart, Commander of 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, and first British Commander of UNPROFOR, makes its way cautiously over an unsafe bridge. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Civilians, including children, cluster around a British soldier of 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment at Travnik, Bosnia, shortly after the arrival of British forces in Bosnia at the start of Operation ‘Grapple’. In October 1992, 2,400 British troops deployed to Bosnia and Croatia under Operation Grapple and became operational in November. They were tasked with providing armed escort to United Nations humanitarian aid convoys as part of UNPROFOR. The British forces maintained a headquarters and logistics base at Split but operated mainly in the dangerous area around Vitez, where the UN central depots were based. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
View of the market-place at Travnik, Bosnia in November 1992, shortly after the arrival of British forces in Bosnia at the start of Operation ‘Grapple’. Civilians cluster around two Warrior armored fighting vehicles of 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A British soldier, his face muffled against the cold, keeps watch with his assault rifle from the top of a FV432 armored personnel carrier as it moves through the snow-covered landscape during an operation to escort urgently needed convoys of firewood into Sarajevo in early 1993. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Soldiers from ‘B’ Company of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (Rangers) with a Warrior FV510 in the town of Gornji Vakuf, 1993. The town stands at an important crossroads in central Bosnia-Herzegovina and was one of the first attacked by Croatian forces during the Bosnian War, on 20 June 1992. At that time, it was vital for UNPROFOR to hold Gornji Vakuf to enable UNHCR supplies to be transported around Bosnia. On 11 January 1993, major fighting broke out around the town. This included Croatian shelling of the town center, which caused much destruction. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A British FV432 and a Landrover both equipped for medical duties with UNPROFOR in the Vitez area of Bosnia, 1993. Both vehicles are painted in the high visibility white color scheme adopted by UNPROFOR vehicles in Bosnia. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A break in the warfare for a football match between 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment and the local Croat population of Dolac near Travnik, 13 December 1992. The Dolac team won the match 4-3. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Muslim civilian displays a sniper’s rifle with homemade silencer near Gornji Vakuf, 1993. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Royal Navy Sea King helicopter of No. 845 Naval Air Squadron (Fleet Air Arm) arrives in Bosnia with supplies, 1993. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Warrior armored fighting vehicle of 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment drives through the center of Travnik in Bosnia. The market-place is in the background. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
UN troops on their way up Sniper Alley in Sarajevo. Wikipedia
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Bosnian Muslim women and children refugees, possibly from Srebrenica, arrive in Tuzla, north-east Bosnia, March 1993. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
British troops, wearing blue United Nations berets, insignia and identification vests, prepare to board a troop transport aircraft at RAF Brize Norton for Bosnia in early 1993. In the background, a television cameraman films the event. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Casualties arrive by United Nations helicopter at Tuzla Air Base following their evacuation from Srebrenica, March 1993. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Pipe Major Kenny Kerr from Ayrshire plays to some soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers sitting on a Warrior just outside Gornji Vakuf in the run-up to Christmas, 14 December 1994. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Members of the 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers on a combined foot patrol in Novi Travnik in central Bosnia, November 1994. Novi Travnik came under attack at the start of the war from Serbian forces. Later, in 1993, Bosnia-Herzegovina soldiers entered the area and either evicted or killed the local population. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Members of the Royal Engineers helping to rebuild the Stari Bila school, near Vitez, 15 November 1994. At the outbreak of the war, the Vitez area saw local violence between Croats and Muslims, with villages and mosques being damaged. Hostilities flared up again in 1993 when Bosnia-Herzegovina soldiers entered the area, attacking Croats and Muslims. This left severe damage in many communities in the area. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Members of the Household Cavalry Regiment handing out books to the children of a school in Lug, near Prozor, Bosnia on 23 November 1994. Prozor came under attack early in the war and suffered a great loss of life and damage during the conflict. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Troops of the 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers in Jelah, north of Maglaj, central Bosnia, 10 December 1994. A Warrior FV510 can be seen through barbed wire navigating the mud. Maglaj was occupied by Serbian forces early in the war and its Bosnian population especially suffered as a result. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers on patrol in Gornji Vakuf, 14 December 1994. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Members of the 1st Battalion, Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment distributing aid in the village of Glavice, south-east of Bugojno, on 17 December 1994. From the start of the war, Bugojno was shelled by Serbian forces and was a sought-after prize due to it being an industrial center in the region. Serbian forces occupied the area in 1992. As the war progressed, an influx of refugees and the advancement of Muslim and Croat forces escalated the conflict. In the summer of 1993, the Croat and Bosnian forces turned against each other, eventually leading to the defeat and withdrawal of Croat soldiers and civilians from Bugojno, leaving the town in Bosnian control. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A local man acts as the hairdresser for men of ‘B’ Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers, Vitez, 25 December 1994. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Men of ‘B’ Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers on Christmas Day, 25 December 1994. Major David Crumlish has a whiskey with the men at a checkpoint in the Vitez area. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Members of the Royal Engineers on a Boxing Day run in Vitez, 26 December 1994. IWM
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
A Bosnian Muslim woman cries on the coffin of a relative during a mass funeral for victims killed during 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, whose remains were found in mass graves around the town of Prijedor and Kozarac, 50 km (31 miles) northwest of Banja Luka, on July 20, 2011. Reuters
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, center, stands in the courtroom during his initial appearance at U.N.’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands, on July 31, 2008. He faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for allegedly masterminding atrocities throughout Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. AP Photo
The Brutality of the Bosnian War Reflected in These Heartbreaking Photographs
11,541 red chairs line Titova street in Sarajevo as the city marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war, on April 6, 2012. The anniversary finds the Balkan country still deeply divided, power shared between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims in a single state ruled by ethnic quotas and united by the weakest of central governments. Getty Images

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