Zagreb - The state leadership, led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, as well as numerous veterans and citizens laid wreaths and lit candles in Okučani on Tuesday to pay their respects to the defenders killed in Operation Flash, in which the army and the police liberated the western Slavonia region 23 years ago.
The ceremony started with the unveiling of a memorial site called "The Crystal Cube of Serenity", comprising 51 cubes.
The commemoration was also attended by ministers Damir Krstičević, Davor Bozinović and Tomo Medved, as well as Croatian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mirko Šundov and Chief of Police Nikola Milin.
The parliamentary delegation, led by Speaker Jandroković, also included Deputy Speaker Milijan Brkić, parliamentary committee heads Miro Kovač, Josip Đakić and Pero Ćosić.
The combined military and police offensive, known as Operation Flash, which ended nearly four years of Serb occupation of the Western Slavonia region, was launched on May 1 and ended on May 3, 1995. During less than 31 hours Croatian troops and police regained control of 500 square kilometres of land, including the main west-east motorway and the railway line leading to Eastern Slavonia.
About 7,200 troops and police officers took part in the liberation of Western Slavonia, of whom 42 were killed and 162 wounded. It was the first time during the 1991-1995 Homeland War that the Croatian Air Force had used airstrikes on a larger scale, and the enemy was further surprised by tanks that were brought in by rail and deployed in combat.
Okučani is located about 130 kilometres southeast of Zagreb. During the war it was the centre of the Serb rebellion and a staging area for terrorist attacks in Western Slavonia.