oluja polaganje vijenaca.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP / dk

Croatia's state leadership, led by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, after a military parade on Friday laid wreaths and lit candles in Dr. Ante Starcevic Square in Knin where a central ceremony marking Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans Day is held.

Wreaths were laid by Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner, Defence Minister Josip Buljevic, Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic, Veterans' Minister Tomo Medved, the head of the Croatia's Armed Forced Main Staff, Mirko Sundoc, the Sibenik-Knin County Prefect, the mayors of Knin, Vukovar and Zagreb and representatives of Homeland War veterans associations.

President Grabar-Kitarovic is expected to address those present.

 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.

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 

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