Croatia marks Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans Day on August 5 to remember Operation Storm, a joint military and police operation that ended a Serb armed rebellion in August 1995 and restored Croatian sovereignty over occupied central and southern parts of the country, enabling peaceful reintegration of eastern Croatia in January 1998.
The central ceremony started on Friday morning at the Knin Fortress. The ceremony of hoisting the national flag will be attended by the state and military leadership, led by President and Supreme Commander Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic.
The ceremony in Knin is expected to attract approximately 100,000 people.
Operation Storm was launched at 5am on August 4, 1995, and within the next 84 hours 10,400 square kilometres or 18.4 per cent of Croatia's territory was liberated. A 20-metre-long Croatian flag was displayed on the fortress in Knin, the heart of the Serb rebellion, at noon on August 5.
About 200,000 soldiers and police took part in the biggest operation of the Homeland War, of whom 174 were killed and over 1,400 wounded. Operation Storm marked the end of the war in Croatia, created conditions for the peaceful reintegration of the eastern Danube River region, spared the northwestern Bosnian town of Bihac from the fate of Srebrenica, and enabled the return of refugees and displaced persons.
The legitimacy of Operation Storm has been proved before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. On November 16, 2012, the Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber's convictions of General Ante Gotovina, commander of the Split Military District, and General Mladen Markac, special police commander, and ordered their immediate release. The generals were in the ICTY's custody on charges of involvement in a joint criminal enterprise and excessive shelling of Knin, Gracac, Obrovac and Benkovac.