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Mostly young soldiers on compulsory military service were killed in Košare. They were young boys aged 18, 19,20. They were killed by snipers, shells, but also by cluster bombs which are banned by all conventions. NATO was throwing them and during that time we had the greatest number of casualties, and when 16 boys from the 125th motorized brigade were killed… An interview by Darko Gavrilović


BANJALUKA, June 11 /SRNA/ - The author of the documentary film “War Stories from Košare” Slađana Zarić has said that this film was made as an attempt to say thank you for the first time after 20 years to people who took part in the Battle of Košare, since people in Serbia did not know what they went through.

“With that film, we managed to express gratitude for that which was the most valuable then and now, a sacrifice for the defense of the homeland,” Zarić said on Tuesday in an interview for SRNA.

Zarić, who is the author of a number of documentary films inspired by Serbian history and wars, says that she started making the “War Stories from Košare” and the “War Stories from Paštrik” two years ago.

“It seemed to me that the public in Serbia did not know what had happened there, which is shown by the rating of the film, which is very much viewed. Several documentaries have been made so far on this subject in Serbia, books were written, but this has always been done from the aspect of a unit or individual, from which I could not understand why it is often said ‘the hell of Košare',” Zarić said.

According to her, the only way to show that which members of the Yugoslav Army went through 20 years ago was to tell the whole story, with the chronology of events and by monitoring from day to day, from hour to hour, that which was happening on the Albanian-Yugoslav border during these days in 1999.

“There were several units in Košare. First, there were border units which, maybe, suffered the heaviest attack and waged the heaviest battle in the first two days, since Košare was a surprise. There was no surprise in Paštrik since when they attempted to cross over Košare and after this attack of the terrorist KLA was repelled, they were expected to try near Prizren, that is, in Paštrik. The Yugoslav Army was much better prepared at that time, and the fact that enemy’s casualties were 20 times greater than the casualties in the Yugoslav Army speaks how the military operation in Paštrik was brilliantly executed,” Zarić said.

She says that the film “War Stories from Košare” is very emotional and sincere, in which participants of the battle openly and in details describe everything that was happening in battles they waged.

“It was really horrific in Košare. The battle lasted for 67 days on the Prokletije Mountain, at altitudes above 2,000 m. This was the battle, say my collocutors, where death was omnipresent. When I asked them what was the most horrific thing in Košare, they say that this was the time when there was no shooting, since when there is shooting, adrenalin is high and you do not think about that which is happening, about a comrade who was killed next to you, and when there is no shooting, the man starts thinking about what will happen,” Zarić said.

According to her, mostly young soldiers on compulsive military service were killed in Košare.

“They were boys aged 18, 19, 20. They were killed by snipers, shells, but also by cluster bombs which are banned by all conventions. NATO was throwing them and during these days we had the greatest number of casualties, and when 16 boys from the 125th motorized brigade were killed. Testimonies about it are so touching since surviving soldiers say that bodies were blown up and mutilated,” says the author of the film.

Zarić says she was surprised when she realized that 20 years on, soldiers remember the smallest details.

“Now when we know what these children went through, that the agony and trauma lasted for 67 days, that shells were falling next to them constantly, that they watched their comrades being killed, then their testimonies are surprising. This provoked respect and admiration in me for these people, and I suppose in most people who watched the film,” said Zarić.

The most emotional moment in her carrier, Zarić says, she experienced at the premiere of the film in Belgrade’s Dom Garde which was attended by a great number of participants of the Battle of Košare.

“I got out on the stage and started crying, and then I experienced the most emotional moment in my career. When I invited the present participants of the Battle of Košare to come to the stage and said that the applause belongs to them, everyone in the hall, where there were around 800 people, stood up and applauded for around 15-20 minutes. It is rare to experience so deep emotions and support to these people,” she said.

According to her, witnesses from Košare are people who gave to the audience that which was the hardest to give.

“They shared their trauma through me, and warriors usually do not talk even to their families what they went through. Since they trusted me that much, I had a huge fear of how they will react to the film,” said Zarić. /end/sg