Operation Storm

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A celebration of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Day of Croatian Homeland War Veterans

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22 years have past since Croatia’s last major military  campaign, after which the 1991-95 Homeland Defense War finally ended. Operation Storm, the military and police offensive that defined the nation’s independence, resulted in the liberation of one third of Croatia’s Serb-occupied territory.

Following 4 years of occupation, battles and blood shed, and numerous attempts of peaceful reintegration, came months of planning. On Friday, August 4, 1995, at 5 AM Croatian forces launched the Operation in Knin and its surrounding areas. In just 84 hours the mission was complete, resulting in the liberation of northern Dalmatia, Lika, Banovina and Kordun, thus uniting geographic Croatia under Croatian control. In turn, Operation Storm had a huge effect on the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and later led to the peaceful reintegration of the Sub-Danube region.

It was long before the red, white and blue was risen at Knin’s highest point. On August 5 At 9:43 AM, the following day, August 5, a 20 meter Croatian flag was flown above the Knin Fortress, symbolizing the end of the Serb occupation and the beginning of the free and independent state.

Traditional firelock gunmen and monument of first Croatian President Franjo Tuđman, erected in 2015 (Photo GH)

On August 6, a majority of the occupied state territories were liberated. Croatia’s first president, Franjo Tuđman arrived to celebrate the historic event.

“Knin had been a capital city to Croatian kings, and they turned it into a litter of chetniks, the kind that could not be seen in all of former Yugoslavia”, said President Tuđman on that occasion.

In just a few days, Croatian Armed Forces liberated 11,000 square kilometers of Serb-occupied territory. From August 4 – 7, 200,000 troops participated in Operation Storm. 174 lost their lives in battle, and more than 1400 were wounded, and a total of 15 were pronounced missing.

Present times in need of change

Remembering the fallen, celebrating liberation and enjoying independence are how Operation Storm and the end of the Croatian Homeland Defense War are now commemorated. Each year, on August 5th, the official celebration attracts thousands, young and the elderly, veterans and state officials to Knin. On Friday, a day before Victory Day and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, Government arrived for a special cabinet session, which was mainly dedicated to projects aimed at revitalizing Knin and the Šibenik-Knin County. 14 contracts worth more than 24 million euro were signed today that hope to stimulate the local economy, improve the standard of living and ultimately prevent young people from leaving the area in search of work.

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