History Fun Facts10 Longest Sieges in History

10 Longest Sieges in History

A siege can become iconic. It’s often the falling back on the last stronghold of an embattled nation, tribe, or group.

They were designed to keep out the enemy, protect military forces inside and help supply the resources needed to stay alive until relief could be summoned.

Heroism is measured in stoic acts of resistance rather than daring moments of glorious action.

For example, the eating of the animals in the Paris zoo during the 1870-1871 siege by the Prussians.

Even in modern warfare, sieges can play a part. The Siege of Stalingrad is arguably the most important military action of the last century, the turning point in World War II.

The battle for Stalingrad lasted around six months.

The whole raison d’etre of all those castles and the fortified cities we now enjoy as tourist attractions were to withstand a siege.

Let’s take a look at some of the longest sieges in history!

#1: Siege of Candia (1648-1669)

Don’t worry if you haven’t even heard of Candia. The city is still there, but these days it’s called Heraklion.

It’s one of the most ancient urban settlements in the world and still the capital of the island of Crete, a status it has held since the Arab rulers of the island established their base around a castle there in 820. 

Knossos, the center of the Minoan civilization (the labyrinth guys of legend), lies in ruins nearby. It is considered the oldest city in Europe.

The world’s center of political gravity has moved from the Mediterranean now, but in the 17th century, the sea around whose shores civilization was born was a battleground for the world’s great powers; a trading route and – as it is now – a dividing line between Christian Europe and Muslim Asia Minor and North Africa.

The players in the siege of Candia have also diminished in some respects. Venice remains one of the wonders of the man-made world (even if it is more or less underwater at this point), but the Republic of Venice was much more.

Trade with the Middle East made it a major sea power in the Middle Ages and a major player in the Crusades. It built fortresses and set up colonies across the Mediterranean to protect its trade routes.

Almost constantly butting up against the Venetians were the forces of the Byzantine and then Ottoman Empire, the continuation of the eastern Roman Empire, centered on Constantinople (now Istanbul).

After the fall of the Byzantines, their successors, the Ottomans, were next in line to continue an uneasy relationship of lucrative trade through Venice interrupted by regular outbreaks of war between 1423 and 1718.

By the time of the siege of Candia, Venice was on the wane but still held on to its most important overseas possession, Crete. The Ottoman Empire was expanding northwards.

The spark for the Cretan war was an attack by a Venetian ally (their conflicts were often characterized as “clash of civilization” battles between Christianity and Islam, and European powers often signed up to help their Christian allies), the Knights of Malta, on an Ottoman imperial convoy returning to Constantinople from a pilgrimage to Mecca via Alexandria.

The religious sensibilities involved can only have heightened the anger of the Ottomans, as did the fact that a part of the Sultan’s harem was captured.

That anger was manifested in a 60,000 strong posse sent in pursuit of the raiders, who, luckily for the city of Candia, had decided to unload their loot there.

After a couple of months of dealing with the rest of the island, the Ottomans pitched up outside Candia in May 1648.

They spent three months setting the scene – cutting water supplies and sea routes to resupply the defenders.

Then, they sat there chucking missiles and cannonballs for a fruitless 16 years. The siege lasted so long that other wars waxed and waned while defenders faced attackers year after year.

Treaties were signed, bringing aid or releasing troops to one side of the other. The French came to help the Venetians but ended in disaster.

It was the failure of this French effort that finally ended the longest siege. With only around 4,000 fighting men inside the city, the Venetian commander Morosini surrendered.

He got decent terms for the city’s inhabitants and Venice but was still lambasted back in Venice.

One almost certainly untrue story has it that the news of the city’s fall was too much for the pope, Clement IX, who collapsed on hearing the news. He would pass away two months later.

#2: The Siege of Philadelphia: 1378 – 1390

It’s the Byzantines again! One of the features of the Byzantine world was incessant feuding and civil wars – along with insane emperors, complex bureaucracy, and regular waxing and waning of power.

This time they both (in theory) ruled the city and joined in with its besieging.

Philadelphia was a Christian Greek city, theoretically part of the Byzantine Empire.

The reality, though, was that Constantinople was a long way away, and the dominant local power was the Ottoman Turks, who were eventually to make the great city the capital of their own empire.

Manuel II Palaiologos was the Byzantine ruler of the time. He was by no means a bad one (the competition isn’t all that strong); he simply had the misfortune to govern as his civilization was in decline and coming up against a strong rising power.

Philadelphia had clung on to its independence in the face of this political reality, largely by paying cash to the ghazis who had taken the surrounding cities.

Ghazi is a complicated term. Originally meaning something like a bandit, the term had earned respectability. The Ottomans, who saw themselves as expanding the world of Islam, used it as an honorific.

The reality from a military standpoint was that Ghazis were the precursors of full conquest.

They ravaged the countryside, attacking relatively vulnerable targets – but obeying a strict religious code of who could and could not be killed (everyone could be enslaved) – to soften up a territory before the full Ottoman military machine moved in.

Often, success came when peasants asked to come under the protection of the Turks, seeing how ineffective their own so-called rulers were. Many converted to Islam, and others could still claim protection as dhimmis, non-Muslim citizens with fewer rights who had to pay a tax to retain their civic status.

Philadelphia, therefore, was in a bad way. Things got worse for the city when their notional Emperor handed them over to the Ottomans in 1378.

It was all down to family. Manuel’s brother had tried to take the throne, followed by his nephew.

Manuel and his father did win through in the end, but to do so, they had to do a deal with the power that was due to displacing them.

Manuel himself was sent as a hostage – a relatively common thing, and he would have had a gilded cage. The ruling classes didn’t want to ruffle each other’s fine robes.

It was during this stay that he was forced to take part in the siege of a city he had himself handed over. The handoff took place in 1378, but the city’s inhabitants managed to repel the Ottoman forces for another 12 years.

This all ended their former ruler and protector, the man who sold them out, arrived as part of the force that ended their independence and the Byzantine presence in Anatolia.

They could probably live with that irony in comparison with their next conqueror, Timur (or Tamurlane), the great middle eastern warrior, who, himself battling the Ottomans during the almost constant warring that kept him busy, took the city and built a wall from the corpses of men he had captured and slain.

The city is now called Alaşehir and has a happier claim to fame these days – it’s a raisin-producing hotspot!

#3: Siege of Ishiyama Honganji (1570-1580)

This wasn’t an isolated incident within a war; the 10-year Siege of Ishiyama Hongan-Ji was the whole war.

This was the Sengoku period. The keywords in histories of this troubled time in Japan are: “near-constant military conflict” it’s generally translated as “The Warring States Period”.

Oda Nobunaga is one of the key players. He and then his heirs are the people who unified Japan as a nation under a Shogunate.

He was a Samurai and a military reformer, who pioneered the use of firearms, fortifications, and promotion based on battlefield merit.

As you can imagine, his life was one of near-constant military conflict.

Among his campaigns, the Siege of Ishiyama Hongan-Ji is an oddity. His opponents weren’t rival warlords but warrior monks – hooray for warrior monks! – called the Ikkō-Ikki. That’s a simplification, but the Ikko-Ikki were religious.

Their roots were in Buddhism, particularly a brand preached by Rennyo, himself a pacifist who died in 1499.

Theirs was a natural reaction to all this near-constant military conflict, which was bad for the peasants, monks, priests, and other civilians who banded together to form the Ikko-Ikki.

Rennyo believed in violence only for self-defense, but he always made sure his temples were well-fortified.

It was in one of these fortified complexes near Osaka that his followers took on Oda Nobunaga.

They weren’t a serious military threat. They were simply in the way of his plans, interrupted his economic supply lines, and made alliances with his enemies.

This was very much a final showdown with the Ikki. In open battle, they’d already been defeated whenever Oda fought them.

The complex of fortifications in their final stronghold was another matter, however.

Oda bought 30,000 troops for the siege. Typically, his first move was to build a ring of fortresses around the fortress he was trying to take.

Oda then quit the scene to carry on with near-constant military conflict elsewhere, including at the sect’s other major base in Nagashima.

He also set about degrading their strength elsewhere and that of their allies. The Ishiyama fortresses could be supplied from the sea, and the Ikki was in league with the Mori clan, Japan’s premier masters of near-constant naval conflict.

They nearly surrendered after a mere five years but were boosted when more of Oda’s enemies came to their aid.

In 1576, Oda launched a major assault- but the Ikki hadn’t been idle. They’d built more than 50 extra forts of their own, and with 15,000 men to defend them, oversaw his 3,000-man assault.

By 1578, the slow work of dislodging the Mori clan was done, and the Ikkis were running out of allies and outsiders to supply them.

Finally, surrender came following a request from the Emperor. Oda destroyed the fortresses but was relatively lenient with their defenders.

The remnants of the Ikki signed up with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Oda’s successor.

Hideyoshi is perhaps most remembered in the West for ordering the crucifixion of 26 Catholics who are now venerated as Saints and martyrs.

#4: Siege of Thessalonica (1422-1430)

When you want a good siege, who you gonna call? The Byzantines and the Ottomans were at it again with an eight-year battle to take Thessalonica in the 15th century.

Thessalonica was an important part of the Byzantine Empire, the second city in fact.

But it was the second city of an empire in its final decline – Constantinople itself fell to the Ottomans in 1453, marking the end of the Byzantine era in a remarkably short and snappy siege.

As part of their ultimately doomed efforts to keep the Turks at bay, the Byzantine emperors tried to foment rebellion among the Ottoman troops.

This only achieved one thing, which was making the Ottoman emperor, Murad II, really angry.

Murad II

In response, Murad sent troops, who arrived outside Thessalonica and (perhaps) shouted, “This is a siege!” at the defending troops.

This must all be understood in the context of the centuries-long struggle between a declining Christian Byzantine Empire and a rising Islamic power in the shape of the Ottomans.

The story at this time is one of Ottoman expansion and Byzantine defeat.

The man in charge of Thessalonica was Andronikos, the son of our old friend Manuel II and despot (a self-applied title) of the city.

He wasn’t a healthy man and retreated to a monastery, where he died before the siege he had started was complete.

Andronikos’ final act as the last Byzantine ruler of Thessalonica has echoes of his dad’s treatment of Philadelphia. He either sold or handed over the city to the Venetians.

This did not go over well with the inhabitants. Nonetheless, a Venetian force arrived in 1423 and set about defending their new possession.

Perhaps it made sense. The city was under naval blockade, and the Venetians were masters of the sea.

It also triggered a new international conflict as the Ottomans, who had been allied with the Italian city-state, opened up a war on all fronts against them.

Apparently, defending the city was more expensive than the Venetians had thought.

Great hunger and hardship lingered inside its walls, but they clung on for eight years until Murad had won the upper hand in the greater war and sent a force of 100,000 troops to finish the job.

Apparently, upon winning this long fight, the Ottoman troops were given three days’ leave to pillage and sack the city at their leisure!

Around one-fifth of the population ended up as slaves, and Thessalonica remained in Ottoman hands until 1912, when a Greek army accepted the surrender of its garrison.

Under Ottoman rule, it remained an important and prosperous trading city and was particularly known for its large Jewish population.

#5: Siege of Drepana (249-241 BC)

Another long siege marked a long struggle between two mighty powers, Rome and Carthage.

You won’t find Drepana on the map now; it’s called Trapani, and you’ll find it right at the North West extreme of modern Sicily.

Back in 249 BC, it was a naval base for the Carthaginian Empire. Carthage was near what is now Tunis in North Africa.

Its rulers were Phoenician, and it was a major trading and military power in the Mediterranean with bases on both the north and south coasts of the sea.

The struggle with Carthage is one of the defining facts of Roman history. “Carthago delenda est” or “Carthage must be destroyed” became a slogan of the Roman political class.

Cato the Elder, the great orator and leading conservative, would utter this phrase every chance he got.

The struggles between these two powers are called the Punic Wars – there were three of them – and Drepana was besieged during the first of them.

The war started without involving either of these two long-time rivals. Carthage was more powerful than Rome, which was on the way up.

Rome was pretty much in charge of the Italian peninsula but wasn’t yet the gigantic empire it would soon become.

Rome and Carthage came to face each other as hired hands. The Mamertines were fighting against the rulers of Syracuse down in Sicily.

The Mamertines called in Carthage but then asked the Romans to fight their allies.

The Romans sent troops, and the Carthaginians threw in their lot with Syracuse.

While Rome was a land power, Carthage’s strength was undoubtedly a naval one. The siege went well for the North Africans at first – they wiped out an entire fleet.

But Rome wasn’t going to become the dominant power of the ancient world by accepting defeat. They rebuilt their navy and turned their ships into mobile troop carriers, taking their land supremacy to sea.

The siege ended with the war. After 23 years, Rome took Sicily in the peace settlement, along with loads of cash in indemnities.

Drepana remains an important port to this day!

#6: Siege of the Solovetsky Monastery (1668-1676)

Monks! What are you to do with them? Aren’t they supposed to be engaged in contemplation and prayer?

Not so in the case of the cassock-wearing warriors of the Solovetsky Monastery in Russia who, just a few hundred strong, took on the might of the Tsars (just before they got really mighty).

They were only defeated by an inside betrayal.

While there’s a political element to this struggle – Russia was in the process of being unified under the Tsars – there’s also a religious dispute at the heart of it.

The monks of Solovetsky were Old Believers, holdouts against reforms in the Russian Orthodox Church that were designed to unite the church with the Greek Orthodox believers.

The Church was closely linked with the growing Russian state, and those who didn’t go along with this change – which had been carried out without jumping through the proper administrative hoops – were persecuted for centuries.

You’ll still find Old Believers around today, often in the countries to which they fled to escape persecution.

There are some in Woodburn, Oregon, as well as some in Bolivia and Alaska – so if you’re out that way, be on the lookout for really big beards.

In the early days, they were probably in the majority. The monastery also had the advantage of being a major local power – it was important economically as well as spiritually with fantastic fortifications (that still stand today) that reflected the troubled state of the countryside.

Religious differences tied in with political and economic misery on a scale that Russia seems to specialize in, and the monks in the monastery had the wholehearted support of the local commoners.

That was the key to the length of this siege. Food was easy to come by, and the monastery had access to the sea.

Streltsy

The state sent troops – Streltsy armed with firearms – but they were easily kept at bay. The monastery became a beacon for dissatisfied and rebellious folk, including the besieging soldiers themselves, and new defenders were arriving all the time.

For seven years, they kept the army out until a monk called Feoktist did the dirty on his brothers and pointed the attackers to a weak spot in the defenses. In they came, sparing few.

Of the hundreds inside, only 60 survived the end of the siege, and most of them were executed.

Solovetsky remained an important military and spiritual center – it was bombed by the British during the Crimean war – until the Bolshevik revolution sent Christianity even further underground in Russia.

Unfortunately, the buildings became prison camps.

Today, times are happier in Solovetsky. It’s a museum and tourist attraction, but the monks are back too.

Around ten live, work and pray here, unaffected by any past sieges.

#7: Siege of Tripoli (1102-1109)

When you clicked on a list of the longest sieges, this is probably pretty much what you were expecting –crusaders and castles, knights and trebuchets.

Well, they’re here now. (There’s a Byzantine link, too, though!)

Again we find ourselves in the wonderful world of religious/political conflict. The Siege of Tripoli (this is the Tripoli now in Lebanon, not the capital of Libya) isn’t actually part of a Crusade proper.

The First Crusade ended in 1099 when its main aim, the capture of Jerusalem, was achieved (after a longish siege and a terrible massacre).

But the Crusaders didn’t all just turn and go back to Europe. There was now a distant possession to be governed and protected.

Many who had failed to answer the original call to protect the Holy City now regretted their inaction and headed out east to join in the fun.

While the Crusade had been launched to support the Christian Byzantine Empire, which was losing territory to expansionist Muslim power.

The knights who had fought the battles had no allegiance to the Greeks of Constantinople.

The result was a large group of powerful warrior princes and nobles looking for somewhere to set up shop. (It’s been suggested that one of the reasons for the Crusade was to get some of these people, whose entire raison d’etre was war, out of Europe.)

Raymond IV

One of those men was Raymond of Toulouse. Armed with the Holy Lance of Antioch, Raymond had led the Crusade into Jerusalem.

However, he hadn’t yet taken the spoils he thought he needed from this expedition.

Raymond set his sights on the County of Tripoli, an old Byzantine territory, and began to besiege the chief city in 1102.

He built a fortress of his own outside the city and set about taking over the rest of the surrounding countryside, calling in help from the Byzantines.

Raymond wouldn’t survive to see victory in this marathon siege. He died after an 1104 offensive from the city’s defenders, who burned down part of his fort.

His nephew, however, was quite happy to continue his work.

It’s wrong to think of this as a completely airtight isolation of the city. The crusaders made agreements with the city that allowed it to continue to trade.

In 1108, things were beginning to get tough for the city – the siege was pretty tight, and many of the city’s nobles were executed for supplying information to the European forces.

Fakhr al-Mulk

Fakhr al-Mulk, who governed the city, headed off (with 500 men) to get help from the Sultan in Baghdad.

He stayed away too long, however, and the city’s remaining aristocrats called in al-Afdal Shahanshah, vizier of Egypt, and handed the city’s defense (and the city itself) over to him.

The Franks, too, got their act together. Forces from the other crusader kingdoms arrived with reinforcements from Europe.

However, they were soon at loggerheads over who should take this valuable prize when it did fall.

Once they’d hammered out an agreement, their combined forces proved to be overwhelming. They poured into the city, burning a library of 100,000 books in the process and enslaving most of the population.

The Egyptian fleet arrived eight hours after the sack and had to turn back, powerless to help.

#8: Siege of Harlech Castle (1461-1468)

Harlech Castle – A general view of the castle

Also, clocking in at seven years is the longest siege in British history. Again, a larger conflict rages away in the background, this time the Wars of the Roses.

It’s thanks to this event that we have the song “Men of Harlech”, which was featured in the 1964 film Zulu. Welsh soldiers fictionally sang it during the siege of Rorke’s Drift.

The Wars of the Roses were long (1455 – 1487) and complex. They’re the basis of Game of Thrones and were indeed bloody and horrible and bloody horrible.

Simply, there were two sides: the Yorkists (the White Rose) and the Lancastrians (the Red Rose). Both wanted the throne, and both got their hands on it from time to time.

In 1640, the Yorkists held the upper hand. They won the Battle of Northampton and captured Henry VI, the current king, and soon replaced him with their own man, Edward IV.

There followed some to-ing and fro-ing until the Battle of Towton on 29th March 1461. It’s maybe the bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil, and it was a decisive victory for the Yorkists.

House of Lancaster

There was still a long way to go in this historical box set, though. The Lancastrians weren’t finished, and one of their last centers of power was in Wales.

So began the very long siege of Harlech. The Yorkists sent armies into Wales and were soon victorious.

The Earl of Pembroke, the chief Lancastrian power in the land, did a runner, but the garrisons in his castles, including Harlech, were left standing.

If you’ve ever visited a medieval castle, you’ll have heard all the talks about how these places were designed with sieges in mind.

Wales is the world capital for castles, and Harlech is a particularly fine example.

If you visit Harlech Castle today, you’ll have a lovely view of the sea. Back in the 15th century, you only had to look down to see the waves.

This allowed Pembroke to send in supplies from Ireland.

Welsh Genealogical History

Again, we’re looking at a fairly loose definition of a siege. It would be wrong to imagine Edward’s forces banging up against the gates constantly, but Harlech was a Lancastrian island in a Yorkist sea.

Inside was Davydd ap Ifan ap Einion (Welsh names are patronyms, listing fathers) and a small garrison. Lancastrians were able to come and go with some frequency, and forces even went out on raiding expeditions.

Despite several attempts at negotiating an end to the siege, in 1468, Edward was forced to face Harlech head-on.

A planned war with France saw the French king funding Welsh rebels, including the Earl of Pembroke.

A mighty army of 9,000 men was sent to attack the castle. The Earl of Pembroke fled, taking his ships back to Ireland.

This left the castle truly isolated.

Harlech Castle fell within a month.

The Pembrokes and the Welsh would be back, though – The Earl’s surname was Tudor.

#9: Battle of Xiangyang (1267-1273)

The preserved northern gate of the city of Xiangyang is called The Linhan Gate.

The fortresses of Xiangyang and Fancheng were ready for a long siege. The Song dynasty of China faced a terrible enemy, the Mongols under Kublai Khan, and knew that the twin cities were vital to the survival of their empire.

The Song withstood 30 years of Mongol assaults, but once Xiangyang fell, they were all done in six years.

To defend their vital forts, the Song built massive fortifications, packed supplies in, and set outposts in every direction.

The wooded terrain didn’t suit the Mongols, who were cavalry specialists that adopted Chinese military technology to win through in the end.

The Mongols were a historical force like no other. They had come out of their homelands in Mongolia to forge the largest land empire in history, bringing slaughter and misery wherever they went.

Expansion to the West had gone well for the Mongols, but the Song was proving a difficult nut to crack. That was largely down to Xiangyang, protector of the Song’s river routes along with the Han and into the Yangtze.

It was a natural stronghold with mountains on three sides and a river on the fourth.

The Mongols had actually occupied the city before, but due to their nature as nomadic horsemen, chose to leave the fortress to conquer elsewhere.

A 1257 assault on the walls had led to disaster for the invaders.

Kublai Khan

Kublai Khan decided to put a stop to the Song dynasty and in 1268 sent his commander Aju and a defector from the Song, Liu Zheng, to take the twin cities.

They started by building forts around their quarry and probing its defenses. Instead of relying on their mastery of the horse as a weapon of war, they bought the latest siege engines, trebuchet catapults, which could lob 50kg rocks from 100m away.

The Song had prepared for this, though, with nets to catch the missiles and excavations to the river to keep the artillery at a safe distance.

Next, the Mongols set up a river blockade with a fleet of 5,000 ships.

Things looked bleak for the twin cities. Relief efforts were struggling to break through a ring of Mongol forts and one of the greatest cavalry forces in history.

The last supply mission actually got through, breaking the naval blockade. But because no one could get out with the good news, the Song leaders put it down as yet another failed attempt and gave up on their besieged men.

Meanwhile, 20,000 infantrymen were added to the forces at the wall, and Persian siege engines of even greater power joined the attack.

Fancheng fell first in early 1273. A single rock triggered its destruction. The garrison was massacred, perhaps as a warning to their brothers next door, perhaps because that’s what the Mongols tended to do.

In the end, Xiangyang fell to a lucky shot. More specifically, a test shot from a trebuchet that flew into the city.

According to some accounts, it destroyed a bridge. According to others, it just made one hell of a noise.

Either way, it triggered panic, with many of the defenders now keen to surrender in the hope they might avoid the fate of the defenders of Fancheng.

The surrender came on 14th March 1273, and the Song was finished, to be replaced by the Yuan Dynasty of the Mongols.

#10: Siege of Sarajevo (1992-1996)

Unfortunately, the modern world can compete with these distant historical horrors. The siege of Sarajevo lasted 1,425 days and killed nearly 14,000 people.

Modern media made it one of the most public sieges and also one of the most artistic in history. It is the only siege on our list that ends with the relief of those inside looking out.

The wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia are modern Europe’s great tragedy. This sort of thing was supposed to be limited to the history books by the 1990s, and while the world looked watched horror, the killing went on as age-old ethnic and nationalist disputes found bloody expression in a terrible way.

The death of Marshall Tito started the death of the country he had created. Nationalism had been stamped on during Tito’s communist rule.

He hadn’t killed it, though, and when he departed this earth in 1980, it became clear what had been simmering away for so long.

In 1990, the nations that had been subsumed into Tito’s vision started to push for self-determination.

The population of Bosnia and Herzegovina was particularly racially mixed and, after Croatia and Slovenia had left the Yugoslav federation, ethnic tensions boiled over.

The Serbian population was in favor of staying with Yugoslavia. Ethnic Bosnian and Croat people generally wanted to follow the lead to independence.

The Serbs set up their own parliament and declared their own republic soon after.

They boycotted an independence referendum, and soon after the overwhelming vote in favor, the bullets started flying.

Yugoslav Army

The Yugoslav army was supposedly disbanded after the fall of the communist regime to which it owed allegiance.

In reality, many of its men and a lot of its equipment simply went over to the Bosnian Serb Army, who were better armed than their Bosnian and Croat opponents.

By 2nd May, Bosnia’s capital city, Sarajevo, was completely blockaded by Bosnian Serb forces.

Although they had the best equipment, the besiegers were outnumbered by the defenders and settled in to bombard and take potshots at the city’s forces and, sometimes, civilians.

By September 1993, almost every building in the city had been damaged in some way, and life for its inhabitants was miserable and dangerous.

Shells often fell on – or were directed at – the innocent. The Markale marketplace massacre killed 68 civilians.

It took until February 1994 for the outside world to get involved (the day after that atrocity). The UN – whose peacekeepers were a tragically ineffective presence during the Yugoslav civil wars – called on NATO to help the city, and within three days, airstrikes were made against Bosnian Serb positions.

With the international community largely against them, the Bosnian Serbs were destined to lose. Bosnian and Croatian forces started to win the ground war and started to lift the siege of Sarajevo.

A ceasefire was followed by the Dayton Agreement, which ended the greater war on December 14, 1995.

The siege was not declared over until February of the following year, however.

Sarajevo had been a tolerant city where people co-existed. Following the siege, many Serbs (who had also been shelled and killed by their own ethnic brothers) left the city and moved to exclusively Serbian territory.

Trials for war crimes during the wars still continue today.

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