THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The Netherlands' top general resigned Wednesday, a day after the government quit over criticism that Dutch leaders failed to prevent the 1995 massacre of Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ad van Baal stepped down after meetings with Defense Minister Frank de Grave, taking responsibility for mistakes made by military commanders that led to the massacre of 7,500 Muslim men and boys by Serb troops.
A report last week said politicians gave Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica no way to stop the Bosnian Serb troops that overran the U.N.-declared "safe area." It also cited failures by the military -- particularly that Van Baal's predecessor withheld information from government officials to preserve the military's reputation.
The government of Prime Minister Wim Kok quit Tuesday, taking responsibility -- but not blame -- for the peacekeeping mission that ended in a weeklong orgy of murder by Bosnian Serb troops under General Ratko Mladic, a wanted war criminal who remains at large.
Kok, who was prime minister at the time of the Srebrenica massacre, entered a special parliamentary session Wednesday to face questioning about his decision to resign after the report came out six days ago.
In the parliament session, some said the Netherlands should offer compensation to survivors and relatives of those who perished at Srebrenica.
"There were people in Srebrenica who fled (and) live in atrocious conditions seven years later. Can we not help? Can we not mean anything for the people of Srebrenica?" Jan Marijnisse, leader of the opposition Socialist Party, said.
The report by the Netherlands' Institute for War Documentation accused political leaders of carrying out an "ill-conceived plan" to boost Dutch international prestige. Unprepared troops were sent on a "mission impossible" to defend about 30,000 refugees who fled Serb forces in the surrounding hills, it said.
As he resigned, Kok took responsibility for the botched peacekeeping operation. But he said the Netherlands did not "accept blame for the gruesome murder of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in 1995, (only) partial political responsibility for the circumstances in which they happened."
Blame for the slayings lies with Mladic, Kok said.
Some 200 lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers stood by as Mladic ordered Muslim men and women in Srebrenica separated. The women were deported and the men and boys were executed.
Last week's report said Dutch troops were hampered by orders not to fire unless fired upon, and the military command had not provided the mandate needed to respond to 1,500 Serb attackers. The United Nations had declared Srebrenica a "safe zone" for Muslim refugees without defining what that meant, the report said.
Kok's government remains in a caretaker capacity until after elections are held.
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