Foreign fighters in the Bosnian War
The Bosnian War attracted large numbers of foreign fighters and mercenaries from various countries. Volunteers came to fight for a variety of reasons including religious or ethnic loyalties and in some cases for money. As a general rule, Bosniaks received support from Islamic countries, Serbs from Eastern Orthodox countries, and Croats from Catholic countries. The presence of foreign fighters is well documented, however none of these groups comprised more than 5 percent of any of the respective armies' total manpower strength.
An estimated 2,000–5,000 foreign Muslim fighters fought on the Bosnian side.[a] The Bosnian mujahideen, an independent unit supporting the ARBiH, were primarily formed out of fighters from Iran, Afghanistan and Arab countries, though Muslim volunteers arrived from all around the world.
The Croats received support from Croatia and the Croatian Army fought with the local Croatian Defense Council (HVO) forces. Some external fighters included British volunteers as well as other individuals from Catholic countries who fought as volunteers. Dutch, Spanish, Irish, Polish, French, Swedish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Canadian and Finnish volunteers were organized into the Croatian 103rd (International) Infantry Brigade. British, French, Czech, Canadian served in the 108 Brigade of HVO. There was also a special Italian unit, the Garibaldi battalion. and one for the French, the "groupe Jacques Doriot".[unreliable source?]
Many extreme right volunteers from Western Europe, mainly from Germany, joined the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS). Although Russians mainly volunteered on the Serb side, the small neo-Nazi "Werewolf" unit fought on the Croat side.
Swedish Jackie Arklöv fought in Bosnia and was later charged with war crimes upon his return to Sweden. Later he confessed he committed war crimes on Bosniak civilians in the Croatian camps Heliodrom and Dretelj as a member of Croat forces.
The Bosnian Serbs received volunteers from Orthodox Christian countries, such as Russia and Greece. These included hundreds of Russians, around 100 Greeks, some Ukrainians and Romanians. One Japanese volunteer is documented. According to ICTY documents, volunteers from Russia, Greece and Romania fighting for the VRS numbered between 529 and 614. Some estimate that there were over 1,000 volunteers from Orthodox countries. One claim[by whom?] is that in April 1994 the VRS consisted of 100,000 men, out of whom 1,000–1,500 were mercenaries from Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Journalist Ljiljana Bulatović claimed that 49 Russians were killed in the war. Mikhail Polikarpov, a historian and participant in the war, numbered Russian soldiers at the hundreds, about 40 of whom died and 20 injured.
Primary Russian forces consisted of two organized units known as "РДО-1" and "РДО-2" (РДО stands for "Русский Добровольческий Отряд", which means "Russian Volunteer Unit"), commanded by Yuriy Belyayev and Alexander Zagrebov, respectively. РДО-2 was also known as "Tsarist Wolves", because of the monarchic views of its fighters. There also was unit of Russian cossacks, known as "Первая Казачья Сотня" (First Cossack Sotnia). All these units were operating mainly in Eastern Bosnia along with VRS forces from 1992 up to 1995.
In May 1995, the VRS Herzegovina Corps intended to organize an international brigade in eastern Bosnia which gathered between 150 and 600 Greek and Russian mercenaries fighting for 200 German marks monthly.
Greek volunteers were also reported to have taken part in the Srebrenica Massacre, with the Greek flag being hoisted in Srebrenica when the town fell to the Serbs. The Greeks were organized in March 1995 as the Greek Volunteer Guard (GVG) and had around 100 soldiers.
- Abdelkader Mokhtari, Algerian, mujahideen
- Abu Hamza al-Masri, Egyptian, mujahideen
- Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, Yemeni, mujahideen
- Karim Said Atmani, Moroccan, mujahideen
- Nawaf al-Hazmi, Saudi, mujahideen
- Fateh Kamel, Algerian, mujahideen
- Abu Khayr al-Masri, Egyptian, mujahideen
- Khalid al-Mihdhar, Saudi, mujahideen
- Zuher al-Tbaiti, Saudi, mujahideen
- Nasser al-Bahri, Saudi, mujahideen
- Babar Ahmad, British, mujahideen
- Jackie Arklöv, Swedish, HVO
- Roland Bartetzko, German, HVO
- Thomas Crowley, Irish, HOS
- Igor Strelkov, Russian, VRS
- Al-Qaeda in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Foreign support in the Bosnian War
- Foreign fighters in the Croatian War
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