The Croatian War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 to create a sovereign Croatia. Croatia had been imbedded in and controlled by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On June 25, 199, Croatia declared independence. The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and the local Serb forces attempted to quell the rebellion but Croat forces overcame.
The majority of Croats wanted to leave Yugoslavia. Many ethnic Serbs living in Coratia opposed the secession and wanted to seize as much land as possible from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovia to create a Serbian nation but to remain within the Yugoslavian state.
The JNA initially tried to keep Croatia within Yugoslavia by total occupation. While these efforts proved unsuccessful, Serb forces declared a self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) within Croatia. In January 1992, a cease fire and international recognition of a sovereign Republic of Croatia was declared. The United Nations Protection Force was deployed and combat was sporadic over the next three years. The RSK held more than a quarter of Croatian territory.
In 1995, Croatia launched two major offensives, Operation Flash and Operation Storm, which both proved to be successful. Operation Flash was the Croat push the RSK out of Okučani and the surrounding areas as well as gain control of the Zagrebe-Belgrade Motorway. Operation Storm was the last major battle of the war. The Croatian special forces advanced from the Velebit Mountain and the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, fighting for their own independence, fighting from the Bihać pocket embedded within Serbian territory regained four thousand square miles of territory.
Croatia had won its independence but about 25% of the Croatian economy was ruined, with US$37 billion in damages to infrastructure, lost production, and refugee-related costs were incurred. 20,000 people were killed in the war.