The Ambush at Brusnik

Following the capture of enemy strongholds Dereza and Bučje in the northern and eastern parts of the Pakrac battlefront in the second half of December 1991, Croatian forces continued their liberation operations in western Slavonia.

In accordance with the order given by Anton Tus, Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Army, the 127th Virovitica Brigade stationed at Dragovići was given the task to attack the Serb strongholds of Brusnik and Lipovac.

With a total strength of approximately 450 soldiers, three battalions of the 127th Brigade launched an assault at 7:00 AM on 29 December 1991. While the 1st and 2nd Battalions were to start from Dragovići and attack from the east, the 3rd Battalion moved out from the area known as Cerik and attacked from the west. After the units of the 1st and 2nd Battalions joined forces in the vicinity of ​​Čaklovac Hill at around 10:00 AM, they set out together towards Brusnik. Tasked with taking control of Grič peak, Croatian troops took heavy fire just below the peak as Serb forces opened up with small arms, artillery and hand-held rocket launchers. The Croats awaited artillery backup from the Sirač area but due to the unfavourable terrain, the artillery failed to improve the situation for the Virovitica brigade.

Meanwhile, the 3rd Battalion took control of the wider area around ​the substation at the foot of Brusnik but as they did not receive help on their left flank, they decided to withdraw to their initial positions under heavy artillery fire. The situation of the forces on the left flank was not made any easier by the fact that they were in the valley surrounded by the Serbs who controlled the dominating elevated positions. They could not move forward or backward as they would end up exposed in a clearing so a decision was made to wait for nightfall to start the retreat. At approximately 10:00 PM, the 1st and 2nd Battalions returned to the village of Dragović but 12 soldiers, along with the Deputy Commander of the 2nd Battalion, Vinko Belobrk, did not return.

When their unrecognizable remains were retrieved on 7 January 1992, it soon became evident that some were killed immediately while others were captured and massacred. A war crime had taken place because most of them had injuries that occurred after being captured rather than in combat. Therefore, their official date of death was 7 January. Original autopsy photo reports documented the injuries in detail and it is quite certain that they were massacred, abused and that this was a serious war crime,

Davor Špoljarić, comrade

Denis Resner, Miroslav Zec, Ivan Žeravica, Slavko Vrbančić, Milan Škrilec, Željko Goričanac, Nenad Oblučar, Željko Maligec, Željko Somljačan, Miroslav Petrović and Tihomir Mihelić were killed along with Vinko Belobrk. That same day, brigade member Zdenko Sabolić was killed near the village of Dragović.

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