Kosovo and NATO
Some of the most controversial and disputed aspects of NATO’s campaign in Kosovo included the number of civilian casualties and deaths that occurred as a result of NATO airstrikes. While the American media consistently downplayed the number of casualties directly attributable to NATO offensives, couching most descriptions of civilian losses under the euphemistic heading of “collateral damage,” several European news sources repeatedly reported that NATO-related civilian deaths topped two thousand.
Also rarely reported in U.S. media outlets was the claim made by many credible members of the European press that a considerable portion of the infrastructure damage inflicted by NATO forces was perpetrated upon mainstays of civilian life, safety, and health. For example, although the U.S. press repeatedly asserted that NATO was only actively targeting areas and structures that were thought to be vital to Serbian military operations, fact-finding missions by several humanitarian and human rights groups seemed to corroborate the claims made by some members of the international press that held that public utilities providing crucial water and heat were destroyed repeatedly, as well as hospitals, media facilities, and factories unrelated to military production.
In addition, claims were made by some members of the international press that NATO forces were employing munitions and weapons that are regarded as unsuitable or illegal in several international treaties addressing the rules of engagement. Among those claimed to have been used were cluster bombs, which consist of a container that disperses a number of smaller “bomblets” that disperse to maximize the damage to the target area. Serbian eyewitness accounts place the number of casualties attributable to NATO-released cluster bombs at over 200.