Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on 5 August and is a commemoration of the military action known as Operation Storm that gained independence for Croatia in 1995.
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Croatia had been a part of Yugoslavia since 1918. In June 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared they would seek independence from Yugoslavia. Croatian Serbs rejected this and fought to keep parts of Croatian territory linked to Yugoslavia. This precipitated the Croatian War of Independence.
In October, the independence of Croatia was complete except for the Serbian controlled areas. Full-scale war erupted. The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) was a strong force but with outdated equipment and the problem of mass desertions and avoidance of conscription. Much of their force included private and irregular militia.
The Croatian forces were in far worse condition to the extent that their fall back was the police force. There was a fierce shortage of weaponry and a lot of what they had was severely out of date. Slowly, the Croatian forces grew to around 60 brigades.
During the rest of 1991, fierce fighting was interspersed with more than a dozen ceasefires that were each subsequently broken. With the help of the United Nations (UN), a longer-lasting ceasefire was declared in January 1992. The UN enforced this and, in May, Croatia joined the UN.
Over the next three years, various operations were launched by Croatia and its allies. On 4 August 1995, Operation Storm fought on a large 630 km front and was declared a victory on 7 August. The victory was also affiliated with the Bosnian War. During the conflicts, up to 200,000 people became refugees in Croatia.
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