By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday called for the world to never forget the genocide in Srebrenica on its 24th anniversary.
"This painful chapter in European history must never be denied nor forgotten," Pompeo said in a statement. "The tragic events of the past remind us of the need to work in unity for a better future, one that is stable, prosperous, and inclusive of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina."
More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed after Bosnian Serb forces attacked Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch troops tasked with acting as international peacekeepers.
Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces who were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.
The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a "safe area" in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic -- later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide -- overran the UN zone.
The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 Srebrenica residents fled into the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 of them in the forests.
"We reaffirm our commitment to building peace and prosperity throughout the region and to ensuring such a tragedy can never happen again," said Pompeo.