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The Rhodope-Vidin War was a war between Rhodope and Vidin that had been operating as a defensive line battle along the Vidinite borders for much of the last decade, with Rhodope being fairly successful at bottling up Vidin forces inside the former Vidin Province. They had been attempting to gather the heavy artillery to breach this line since early in the decade. However, the acquisition of the artillery - and its successful movement to the defensive lines - means that the war entered an entirely new phase.
After Doomsday, several parties of surviving officials from the Bulgarian government fled the capital. A group of more hard-line members fled northward, ending up in the city of Vidin. At the same time, a more moderate, even reform-minded group went in more of a southward direction, ending up in the city of Smolyan. These groups created the Bulgarian states of Vidin, and Rhodope, respectively.
Both had issues with surviving Soviet forces in the area, who had gone rogue after the destruction of Doomsday. While Rhodope managed to fight one group off, another one ended up becoming the "power behind the throne" in Vidin, following a relatively bloodless coup. Following a meeting on the outskirts of the Sofia ruins in the mid-nineties, in which a large firefight occurred, the two nation-states have been fighting a war throughout most of what was once Western Bulgaria. As of late, Rhodope, with it larger population and better, more modern, weapons, has had the upper hand. Following an invasion attempt of Vidin by Rhodope in 1997 - which was ambushed and dealt many losses - significant reorganization and change on the part of Rhodope led to their advancing to Vidin again in 2000, only find extensive defense lines in place, which they would need heavy artillery to get through. No real attempts to go around the line were made, as to avoid antagonizing Macedonia on one hand, and out of the recognition that Vidin could counter it.
Fighting by guerrilla forces, either rebels or Vidinite troops, have been attacking Rhodope troops besieging the line ever since. However, this has been slacking off in recent years, as Rhodope has been guarding any villages they find in parts of the region, and installing small garrisons along the route between Rhodope and the lines. However, this has not translated into any real control, and will not until the war ends.
Several attempts to gain the artillery have occurred over the last decade, resulting in spectacular failures, for varied reasons, such as the Sicilians, rebels, and even a small avalanche in the Rhodope Mountains causing the artillery to fall off a cliff at one point. Now, however, they have gained them and the war will commence in full force once again.
Events of the War
The long-awaited heavy artillery and tanks acquired by Rhodope in late June finally arrived at the Vidin defense line today. The Rhodope army commanders quickly moved them into the pre-assigned positions, where they plan to use them to breach the defensive lines and press onward until they reach the defense lines believed to be established around the cities of Vidin and Belogradchik, where they are to wait for the artillery and assault the cities.
The Vidin soldiers have waited this with dread. However, given the situation, if they show the least hesitation, they will die at the hands of the lunatics in charge. The commanders, however, estimate the assault will occur within days.
However, the Rhodope Army, unbeknownst to them, has other plans - the bombardment will occur starting an hour before dawn, and then at dawn, in an old-fashioned creeping barrage, the troops will advance.
Rhodope scout planes have spotted a large convoy rushing from Vidin to Belogradchik, which is believed to be those who will command a siege of that city.
Vidinite forces have managed to repair one of the two EMP-fried missile launchers they had managed to obtain, and are rapidly working on the second, though it does not look good for them. However, they plan to obliterate the Rhodope planes as soon as is possible - the first will come when the assault does.
August 3rd - Breakthrough
As planned, the Rhodope Army commanders began their barrage before dawn. It was 20 minutes late - a last-minute attack by rebels slowed down the messengers with the orders - but the attack went forward, minutes before dawn, as planned. Some small casualties occurred at one of the three breakthrough points, especially when one of the bombardiers, still sleepy, miscalculated his aim slightly.
Other than that, however, the assault went well. The Vidinite commanders had not expected it so soon, and all were surprised by the attack; apparently, the Rhodope commanders had clandestinely managed to shuttle the artillery shells over the previous while. Supported by the tanks - one at each attack point - the soldiers preceded to roll up the line in both directions and force the Vidin Army to retreat in those sectors. The Rhodope soldiers, largely due to the atrocities committed by communists against Rhodope in the past, made a habit out of shooting the most of the officers - and especially doing it to the political commissars. Despite official protests about this from the government, no officers have attempted to put an end to it, and likely will not in the future.
As soon as the breadth of the disaster reached the Vidin Soviet, an order was given to the surviving commanders along the line to slowly pull back - even the now-largely-insane membership of the Soviet could recognize that not doing so would mean their troops were surrounded and likely finished, even before their "plans" could come to fruition.
By the end of the day, the Vidin forces had begun to pull back, leaving booby-traps behind them. This rapid pullout would mean the defense line was breached even more, allowing some of the rank-and-file to be surrounded and captured.
The assault had gone better than Rhodope had expected - and much worse than Vidin had thought. Yet, as the Rhodope Army began to run into the traps and small ambushes, the belief that this would not be easy was reassured.
The missile weapons were moved around, with the repaired one being sent to Belogradchik with the convoy, along with some of the engineers who repaired it - the logic being that it would be attacked first - and the remainder staying with the one being repaired in Vidin. It will be fired when Belogradchik is surrounded by troops and the plane is nearby and at a low height.
Due to the pullback, this day was fairly uneventful. The Vidinite soldiers, shielded by their rearguard and the traps left behind, were able to pull back fairly safely to Belogradchik, where those who were to stay entered the fortress-city, while the others continued slowly toward Vidin.
The Rhodope Army finished mopping up the remnants of the defense line, and began to push for Belogradchik, as well as attacking along what was believed to be the western borders of the enemy state, to try and prevent any escapees. Discovering that the roads were well-mined, they have begun marching through the vineyards along either side instead, which has allowed them to avoid most of the mines, though caused an increase in the amount of ambushes.
Rhodope now plans on advancing to Belogradchik, and then surrounding and besieging the city with a third of their forces. The rest will continue the pursuit toward Vidin. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Belogradchik will likely be surrounded by the middle of the next week.
August 10th - Woe betide the Defenders of Belogradchik
Today, the city of Belogradchik was finally completely invested by the Rhodope Army, slightly ahead of schedule.
It has been decided, however, because of intelligence received by Rhodope Army Intelligence that indicated the higher leadership of Vidin was in Vidin while the lower levels were the ones that had been sent to Belogradchik, to send the majority of the tanks and artillery on ahead to Vidin.
The Rhodope forces not tasked with the investment of Belogradchik have been marching toward Vidin, within sight of the roads but purposely avoiding the roads where possible, due to a belief that they are extensively mined. Teams following the main body of the army clearing mines have confirmed this.
Unfortunately, this is something that the Vidinite Army has noticed, and they are planning on mining the countryside more heavily now as a result, while leaving the roads fairly unmined, and organizing more ambushes along the way.
The missile in Belogradchik is being prepped, and will be launched at the plane often seen circling the city in the morning. The other missile in Vidin now has its detonation sequences and parts repaired, though the propulsion and targeting devices are only being started on.
Rhodopian forces expect to pass the site of their last invasion of Vidin, about 15 miles from Vidin itself, around midday tomorrow.
Forces near the perceived border of Vidin to the west have also come into contact with a Macedonian patrol, which has agreed to keep a keen eye out on its side of the border for fleeing Communists - and they will be forcefully removed from existence, for they have no great love of the Vidinites either.
The Vidin Soviet, while slightly alarmed at the progression of the Rhodope Army, still believes in their radiation-induced insanity that they will win, though this is something that an outsider would consider highly unlikely.
At dawn, the Rhodope army was handed its first major setback in the campaign - one of their scout planes, which had been circling the city of Belogradchik met with a most unfortunate end. A small heat-guided missile was launched from the top of the city defense wall, making a direct hit upon the tail end of the plane and causing it to spiral out of control.
To make it even worse, the site where the plane crashed, by sheer co-incidence, happened to be the spot where the commander of the besieging forces had erected his headquarters tent. In the short period of confusion which followed, a short company of Vidinite soldiers went over the wall, fleeing westward. Witnesses claimed to have seen them heading toward the famous rock formations in that direction.
As if things could not get worse, a series of anti-personnel mines, set to detonate as one, destroyed one of the heavy artillery pieces on the road to Vidin. The unit then had to use one of their tanks to haul it off the road to allow them to pass it. This took several hours, but they were eventually able to get on their way again. Thus, instead of reaching 15 miles at midday as planned, it was late afternoon. The Rhodope Army expects to arrive at Vidin itself, despite an increase in both mines and guerrilla attacks on the advancing troops, in time for Mass on Sunday morning, rather than the previous evening as planned originally.
The Commander of the Rhodope Army was shocked to hear of the plane being shot down, and of the horrific crash. Demanding to know why they had been surprised like this, the head of the intelligence section meekly told him that he had received a report that Vidin did have a pair of them in their possession, but also one that said there was no chance it could be repaired by the relatively incompetent engineers of the Vidinite Army. And in this, he was obviously wrong.
Now, luckily, the pilot of the plane had managed to relay the needed information before being shot down. However, the intel reports showed that the other missile was likely also in Belogradchik, so they could continue to scout ahead of the Army.
The shooting down of the plane led to a much-needed boost in morale for the defenders of Belogradchik, though even they could recognize it did little to help their situation.
As the day finally came to a close, the soldiers of both armies could not help but wonder - what would the next day bring, and where would it take them?
August 12th - Seizure of Kula
Forces from the Rhodope Army continue their advance toward Vidin.
Today is marked by their capture of the town of Kula, is the western part of the area, near the old border. The site of a small garrison prior to their breakthrough, the Rhodopian troops entered the town, and found it to be essentially empty of its garrison, for the most part. What little they could find of the regular army garrison, consisting of a platoon or so, headed by a sergeant, seemed to be pinning some sort of opponent in the local police station. Upon contact, they willingly surrendered themselves to the Rhodope troops. They explained their activities - apparently the group formed up in the station consisted of Red Banner Guards, and a few of the more radical members of the army, along with most of the officers that had been present in the garrison. The remainder of the Garrison, unlike the sergeant and his platoon, had decided that they did not want to die in a losing cause, but believed too much of the propaganda of the regime about Rhodope to surrender to them. The sergeant, having been in the old Army before 1983 and recently pressed back into service, knew otherwise and had managed to convince most of his platoon to his view. His lieutenant, however, had felt otherwise and led the forces westward, where they planned to set up some sort of state, as warlords, in the former Yugoslavia. The sergeant and hos platoon had stayed behind, and bottled up the guards in the station since - some three days had passed.
The officer in charge of the Rhodope troops quickly got on his radio and informed his commanders, who had something in mind for the renegades - they contacted their counterparts in the Macedonian Army, who given prior experiences with the Vidin state and what it stood for had no qualms with radioing their patrol and ordering them to be on the lookout for this renegade, and to shoot them on sight - no surrender.
The main body of the Rhodope Army reached a point ten miles from Vidin today, on track for Sunday morning, when they plan to hold services within easy earshot of the city defenses.
Vidin is happy with how the retreat is going - exactly as planned, past the first few rough days. They expect to see the Rhodopians at their gates sometime on Sunday, where they plan on destroying them and killing their morale, leading off with the remaining missile being launched at the other scout plane. The engineers have now pronounced it ready, though they are definitely unsure, as the job on this one was much more hasty than the other one.
In a repeat of a plan used against Russian troops in the 1980s, command has decided, using captured uniforms, to land a small amount of disguised soldiers from their boats in the river, whenever the main assault gets underway - intel currently says the heads of the Soviet are still in Vidin, and they would love little more than to capture them alive to put on trial - in an attempt to capture the leadership before something happens to them.
Today the Rhodope government received notice from their Macedonian counterparts that during the night, their patrols had run into the renegade Vidinites, and had slaughtered them in hand-to-hand combat.
Yet, the most important event to occur during the day were other matters - advance units of the Rhodope Army today came into sight of the city of Vidin itself, ending the day only a km and half from the city "walls".
In past days, attacks by Vidinite elements on the troops have been increasing, and casualties have been mounting, though not on anywhere near a scale that would be needed to break the iron will of the Rhodopians in this effort to stamp out the barbaric Communist state.
Currently, they expect to arrive outside the city in time for a late mass on Sunday. This is planned to occur within sight of the garrison, in what will more or less be a taunt.
Supplies in Belogradchik are beginning to run low - the Rhodope breakthrough had occurred slightly faster than expected, so a fair portion of their supplies did not arrive in time, and have since been captured by Rhodope soldiers. Mutterings of opposition are beginning to occur in some quarters.
Much like they had been doing in the region between Vidin-controlled and Rhodope-controlled territory, the Rhodope Army has been rounding up what few civilians remain and forting them up in camps lightly garrisoned by their troops, in order to cut down on any supplies that could be used for guerrillas drastically.
The anti-air missile has been moved into its firing position, and prepped to fire on arrival of the army, where the engineers hope to repeat the spectacular success from Belogradchik, despite their confidential belief that it will likely not even fire - and that if it does something bad is likely to occur.
August 14th - And so Started the Battle of Vidin
By 11am, it finally happened - the Rhodope Army finally arrived at the gates of Vidin. Using a system of loudspeakers, a priest from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, conducted a divine-liturgy, within easy hearing range of the defenders, somewhat demoralizing them. The priest, having suffered at Communist hands in the past, as well as livid at them for their destruction of churches, gave a sermon full of fire and brimstone, at the top of his lungs.
The remaining Rhodope scout plane was at the time circling the soldiers on the ground, listening to a broadcast of the sermon. At the climax of the sermon, by sheer coincidence, the Vidinite engineers, in an attempt to counter its effects, were ordered to fire their missile at the plane.
However, their earlier fears were quite quickly proven justified. In their hurry to repair it, while the electronics had been fixed, they had made one crucial error - one little circuit, which was supposed to launch the missile, had instead been misrouted to the warhead itself - and it started its timer. Within ten seconds of the misfire, the engineers had noticed the activation of the warhead - but it was far too late to do a thing about it. Ten seconds after it had been "fired", it exploded, taking out much of the wall around it with it.
The sermon had largely had to deal with the anti-religious aspects of the Vidinite leadership. Its climax, according to the tale that quickly spread in the region afterward, supposedly went like this: "And, Holy Father, we pray that you may smite downs these heathens, for all their treachery against your people and your works." And, at that instant, is when the explosion occurred. Thus, a "miracle" occurred. Deviating from the rest of the sermon, the priest shouted for the troops to rush into the city, and take it back from the Communist scum.
While the defenders were able to reorganize themselves fairly rapidly, this stroke of apparent fortune from God not only broke their morale, it also allowed the Rhodope Army much easier entry into the city than planned. As of darkness, they controlled about an eighth of the city, in an arc around their opening, which is slowly being expanded.
Slightly dumbfounded, the commander of the Rhodope forces had to rapidly alter all of his battle plans - they had expected to have to use their heavy weapons to break in the city, and spend a week doing it. Now, however, they were inside by virtue of what they knew would eventually be called a miracle - and a definite sign that god favored them and that they were right in what they were doing.
The assault that had been planned for later in the week on the government headquarters by the special units was changed, for Tuesday morning, and the heavy weapons that they were going to use to batter down the walls were promptly sent back toward Belogradchik, except one of the artillery pieces and a tank, which would used on roadblocks or fortified structures it is inside the city.
This news, overall, was devastating to the leadership of the Soviet. Several of its members even shot themselves over it, though for the majority, in their radiation-induced madness, it meant nothing - and they were beginning to make ridiculous orders, on the level of those made by Hitler in the latter part of the Second World War.
Troops marching north from Kula, traveling through extreme terrain, are making excellent progress as well - they were actually able to see the Danube at times during the day today. Of course, they do not expect to actually get to it for a few days, despite this.
The Rhodope Government has also received word that the Transylvanians will increase their patrols drastically near Vidin territory, and will be sending a couple of their Danube river patrol boats to just outside the city as well. While they are not intervening in any great detail and refuse to admit it, this is clearly a desire on their part to partially revenge Vidinite execution of refugees attempting to flee to Transylvania along with keeping and possible communist rebels out of their territory.
Rhodope forces around Vidin today have continued both their advance into the city, and into the remnants of what was once the outskirts in an effort to finish surrounding the city walls.
The remaining heavy weapons have been shifted to one small point on the northern portion of the defense wall, to play some sort of role in the forthcoming special assault on the location of the Soviet, within the ancient fortress of Baba Vida, near the river's edge.
Rhodope forces advancing further into the city in house-to-house fighting have lost the value that had been given them by the the shock of yesterday, though it is still going at a steady pace - they do outnumber the Vidinites, after all.
The advance is going down the main western road leading into the city, and fanning out from there. By dusk, they had moved inside the sports complexes to the north of the breakthrough point and were engaging in heavy, confused fighting there.
August 16th - Behold, the Danube!
During the night, a Vidinite counterattack in the sports complexes drove Rhodope soldiers out of most of their defensive positions. However, by the end of the day they had forced the Vidin soldiers out completely, for they had expended too much in their counterattack.
Forces advancing on either side of the main road, using explosives to blow up barricades along the way, today crossed the first main north-south thoroughfare under covering fire from a tank, taking up defensive positions some 7 blocks beyond it at dusk.
To the south, which is less defended by Vidin troops, a rapid advance today brought Rhodope troops to the walls, when they pinned and forced the surrender of the defenders covering the suburb of Nov Pat. The few holdouts in the suburb were then pummeled into submission. With this, the outer walls became completely surrounded.
Heavy artillery on the northern side of the city, near the beach, began to lob random shells into that area of the city, drawing off units from elsewhere to counter a perceived attack there. In reality, this is a distraction that will cover the dawn raid.
When they looked through the documents captured at the wall, Rhodope Army Intelligence discovered documents which seemed to indicate that contrary to what the Macedonian government has been telling them, they really had been supplying the Vidinites with arms. This was soon reported to he government, who as of midnight were still discussing how to deal with the revelations.
In other news, Rhodope troops finally arrived at the Danube, northwest of Vidin, today. They met up with Transylvanian soldiers and between them slaughtered the few soldiers that had tried to cross the river.
August 17th - Raid!
Shelling continued throughout the night, ending just moments before the attack on the castle commenced.
The special forces had come ashore during the night in rowboats, under cover of darkness, to the south of the castle, where the defenses had been slightly weakened.
Using their uniforms to pass as Vidinite Troops, they were able to infiltrate to the region around the castle. From there, they were able to slip inside, and take the majority of the membership of the Soviet captive.
After radioing in their success, the bombardment commenced once again, only this time it came down on the wall itself - and broke through it. An assault, designed to merely distract the enemy, then commenced.
It achieved its purpose - with all of the shells falling, and guns firing, not only was there a fair amount of chaos north of the castle, but enough sound to block out any sort of shots being fired in the area. With that, the Rhodope troops quickly shot their way out of the castle, and made their escape to the river. The armed boats of the Rhodope Military were there waiting for them, to provide covering fire for their escape. Realizing that the whole endeavor had been a ruse, the Vidin soldiers pursued. Despite this, the majority of the Rhodope soldiers and their captives were able to make it to the boats as the sun rose.
The forces from the distraction assault then pulled back, after success at the castle had been radioed in from the river, and returned to their earthworks, to wait out the coming counter-assault. With support from the artillery, they were just barely able to beat it off, though it cost them dearly.
The prisoners consisted of most of the Soviet that had been left in Vidin, with two major exceptions: the major had not been found, and both the Council Chairmen had not been there either. Apparently, one had went to Belogradchik to head up the defenses there, while the other had been trying to reassure the ministers left at the government buildings in Vidin that they would prevail.
Upon interrogation, it was discovered from the soviet leadership that the documents found the day before had been fakes, designed to provoke a war with Macedonia so that Vidin could beat Rhodope. The Macedonian government was quickly informed of this. Luckily, it had been discovered before anyone did anything rash, as some Macedonian arms had been found being used by the Vidinites - but these had been gained from rogue Serbs, who had stolen them from Macedonia in the first place.
Elsewhere in Vidin, Rhodope forces continued to advance toward the city center, as well as into the City Markets. Their goal is to link up and surround a large pocket of troops sometime tomorrow. Another body of troops is also heading north from the sports complexes.
With Vidin concentrated on defending Vidin itself, the armored convoy returning to Belogradchik is finding itself under less frequent attack, and will now arrive there in less time than it took them to get to Vidin in the first place.
At Belogradchik itself, the minimal artillery left there has been bombarding the town, randomly lobbing shells into parts of the city. Morale inside is crumbling.
The Soviet Major was able to slip away during the firefight on the beach, and is now leading the Vidinite troops, unbeknowst to Rhodope, from the front lines.
During the night, Vidinite troops launched a local counterattack near the sports complexes. While successful in driving Rhodope troops backward, it also likely weakened another part of the front lines, as if a fool of a commander had "robbed Peter to pay Paul", as the High commander of the Rhodope Army was heard to say. Sightings of a commander in the area who seemed to be "raving and jumping around like a mad lunatic," in the words of a Rhodope soldier, were reported as well.
As the day went on, it became very apparent that the forces used in the counter-assault had been moved from the northernmost areas of the front inside the western areas of the city.
Forces attacking northward were able to reach the strong-point in the walls of that sector of the city by nighttime, as a result, and settled in defensive positions around it for the night.
Forces counterattacking in the area taken during the night were able to reclaim the area taken, as well as clear out the rest of the area in and around the complexes.
The attack pincers continue to pierce into the heart of the city, and Rhodope commanders hope to close them sometime in the next couple of days. The pincer attacking into the market has been meeting tougher resistance, however, as the far side of the market is very close to the Port of Vidin.
Vidinite troops who managed to escape the city of Belogradchik earlier in the month, when the plane went down, today launched a hit-and-run attack upon the artillery there, and while they did not succeed in destroying it, were able to take out some of its personnel and ammunition, which will mean a slacking off of shells being lobbed at the city itself.
Rhodope forces in Vidin are beginning to notice something very odd - they are encountering many less civilians that they had expected. The few that they do encounter, however, speak of the Vidin military forcing the majority of them to move somewhere else in the city once word came of the Rhodope breakthrough, though they know not where.
Most of the day's efforts given by the Rhodope Army in the northern part of the line was given to the taking of the western defensive strong-point, which had been surrounded late of the 18th. With the aid of the artillery, the Rhodopians were able to break into the strong-point, and kill most of the defenders. What remained had barricaded themselves in the armory, and their commander threatened to blow the gunpowder sky-high unless they were allowed to leave. The Rhodopians quickly evacuated most of their troops from the structure, and had told the Vidinites they would be allowed to leave. But, someone set of the powder anyway, and destroyed the building. It seems that the commander had decided to set them off anyway.
The troops around the sports complexes advanced slightly outward, consolidating their positions.
Both pincers managed to advance further toward the meet-up point, and to most it would seem obvious what their plans are.
However, the Soviet ex-major in command of the Vidinite troops refuses to acknowledge that this is what Rhodope intends to do. In fact, he insists that it is a "diversion" to allow them to attack elsewhere, or even that it is merely an attack directed at the port. He is so insistent on this that he has has his own personal troops execute several officers who disagreed with his judgment on the matter.
Once the pocket is caught, and surrenders, the main Rhodope objective will turn to taking the port region. They plan to use it after capture to offload supplies, as the supply line to the Army Headquarters is getting to be harder to use, due to rubble, though it is secure. Their sights will turn northward after that occurs, with the likely goal of capturing more of the northern half of the city.
Gunfire from the town center of Belogradchik was heard in the night, though it is not known what the cause was.
August 20th - Welcome, Pocket....
Troops besieging Belogradchik today woke to discover a half-dozen corpses hanging off of buildings near the walls, with obvious gunshot damage. What ever these were from, it was obviously the source of the shots the night before.
What it had actually been was that a small number of Vidinite troops had gone and complained - loudly - about conditions inside the city. The commander of the Vidinite troops, after their call for surrender, had ordered them shot. And it was done almost immediately.
Inside Vidin itself, forces finally closed off the pocket from the rest of Vidin, though narrowly. As soon as they met up, counterattacks began by Vidinite troops to get inside, but they have not been unsuccessful as of yet. Artillery was them moved into place and used to fire into the pocket, to try and make them surrender.
Near the sports complexes, Rhodope forces consolidated the lines, shortening them, so more troops could be sent to more critical regions of the front lines. Specifically, this means the northern portions, near the blown-up strong-point, and to the forces holding the pocket shut.
And, near what used to be the strong-point, troops expanded the security zone around its remains. Rubble is now being cleared from the strong-point, in the hopes that the gap now partially open there can be used for shuttling reinforcements and supplies into that sector of the front better.
The majority of the action today inside Vidin occurred around the site of the "Baba Tonka" pocket. Rhodope troops fighting to keep it closed had to fend off many attacks from Vidin troops attempting to break into the pocket, or out of it. They also expanded the point where the pincers had met up, both into the pocket and main body of Vidin troops, after attacks had failed. As a result, the weakest area was expanded from just over a city block, to closer to ten of them. Loudspeakers have been set up calling for the soldiers in the pocket to surrender, though this has been refused at this time. It is estimated that between five and ten thousand Vidinite troops have been caught in the trap. There has also been reports of the same raving lunatic as reported in the night attack on the 18th seeming to be in charge as well. Unfortunately, no Rhodope troops have been able to hit this commander as of yet, though, rest assured, they are trying.
Intelligence now believes this person to be the Soviet Major, and that he still believes, despite evidence to the contrary, that Macedonia will save them somehow.
In other areas of the city, the pullout of Vidinite troops to try and relieve the pocket has allowed Rhodope soldiers to straighten out their lines somewhat, easing the shortage of troops becoming a factor in those sectors, as troops are moved to keeping the pocket in the south closed. However, small-scale offensives are still continuing, and will do so until the pocket is eliminated, especially at the northernmost areas of the line.
An eerie quiet has descended upon Belogradchik, with only the occasional shell fired into the city.
The artillery train arrived at Belogradchik today, and began a sustained bombardment into the city. Reports of more gunfire coming from somewhere inside the city have also been made.
Forces inside Vidin advanced further today, shortening the line even more. At the northernmost section of the front, advances were made as well. The general Vidin pullout of troops to reinforce the forces attempting to relieve the pocket also allowed forces at the Northeastern break in the walls to advance slightly.
The pocket is still being held shut, and isolated soldiers are beginning to surrender - they are running out of food. Attempts to relive it are failing, and small advances in the wake of these attempts are making the effort even more difficult, both by making the distance from the pocket greater and shrinking it at the same time.
It is anticipated that the pocket will not last much longer.
August 23rd - ...And Goodbye!
Today, the Baba Tonka pocket surrendered, at approximately 4:30 pm in the afternoon. That the commander was forced to do so at gunpoint by hungry soldiers is of no consequence. Three thousand troops were taken prisoner there, out of what the Vidin Army commander said started at six thousand. He was then hauled off to be imprisoned awaiting trial, for war crimes, like all members of the soviet have been.
Significant advances were made along a section of the Northern front today, and minor advances were made throughout the line. A major push will begin tomorrow, as the troops used to surround the pocket are shifted elsewhere inside Vidin. Artillery has now been shifted to fire at the port fortifications, as well.
Observers in the air around Belogradchik observed several buildings imploding from shellfire today, and also what looked like Vidin troops storming a building held by their own troops.
Rhodope troops, repositioned during the night, today launched an attack all across the lines.
While at some points they were thrown back, or advanced very little, in some locations some fairly substantial advances were made - at the north and south extremities of the line, and the main advance thrust, aiming in the direction of the port, which reached the eastern section of the north-south highway by nightfall.
They had gotten closer to the port during the day than they were at nightfall, but had been thrown back by an assault in the late afternoon on the right flank, once again seemingly led by some sort of dancing manic.
Vidinite terrorists also launched an attack on the command tents of the Rhodope Army outside of Vidin today, killing some of the command team before being killed off themselves. Luckily, the Rhodope commander was not there at the time, though he had been supposed to be, having randomly decided to go see for himself the front near the port, after the counterattack by Vidin occurred.
The few boats under Vidinite control have begun to make ready to flee at night as soon as Rhodope soldiers get too close.
Belogradchik was quiet today, besides the usual shells being fired into it by Rhodope artillery. In the early evening, lookouts though they could see something inside the city that looked like an artillery piece, though a small one, being moved closer to the lines, for some unknown reason.
Today Rhodope troops made advances at several points along the lines, but nowhere near as much as the day before, due to stiffening resistance from Vidinite troops, who seem to have recovered somewhat from the many efforts to relive the pocket.
Troops attacking toward the port recaptured the gained areas lost in the counterattack the afternoon prior, and went slightly further. They even managed to catch a glimpse of the port fortifications before sundown.
Surprisingly, no shells or anything were fired from the port. It seems that the fortifications, in a great case of foolishness, are in a position where the guns can only be trained on the river.
In the northeast part of the city, Vidin has apparently moved some troops southward. While the Rhodope forces facing them were not great in number, this will allow them to advance more there.
Vidin troops have now readied the boats to flee when needed. These preparations have not escaped the eyes of the Rhodope vessels, and they are now on the lookout for any attempt.
The item being moved through Belogradchik yesterday was indeed artillery. In a somewhat insane move, Vidin troops attempted to fire it upon the Rhodope heavy artillery firing at the city. Missing entirely, they were soon set upon by the Rhodopian cannons, and mostly killed. The survivors, in another unusual occurrence, were set upon by other Vidin troops and hung.
Observers around Belogradchik are beginning to suspect that the commanders of the Vidinite forces inside the city are starting to lose control of their soldiers, and Rhodope Army Intelligence does know there are food shortages in the city, giving this a certain air of credibility.
Rhodope forces today managed to fight their way to within firing range of the port defenses. The port itself is expected to fall something tomorrow, though this will depend on how many resist to the end.
Even the advancing forces now can see that they are prepared to launch the boats they possess, though why they are even willing to try is beyond even the Rhodope commanders. Whatever the reason, the Rhodope vessels are ready for it, and have even roped the Transylvanians into aiding them.
However damaged it is when they take it, the port will allow supplies to be brought into that area of the city much easier, and thus speed up the advance in the sector.
Rhodope troops managed to cross the eastern branch of the north-south road in several locations during the early morning, though in only limited numbers. They have taken cover outside of the buildings there. This marks the first advance by troops into the more "downtown" region of the city.
In both the Northwest and Northeast areas of the city, Rhodope forces continue to advance. Vidin forces are becoming thinner on the ground here, with some being spotted moving north, and most seemingly going toward downtown.
More shots from within Belogradchik, more than ever before, were heard during the day today.
Vidin vessels plan to try to make a run for it tonight, under the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, one Georgi Pirinski, Jr. They hope to escape to the other side of the river, and somehow make it to somewhat friendly territory in Poland, however illogical this may be.
August 27th - Kiss them Boats Goodbye!
In the middle of the night, the remaining boats under the control of Vidin forces attempted to make a break for it. However, their preparations to do so had not gone unnoticed, and the Rhodope vessels had maneuvered silently after darkness fell into positions that they could use to trap them. As soon as the Vidin Fleet gunned their engines to try and make their escape, the Rhodope vessels - and the Transylvanian ones upriver - turned on their lights, showing that the Vidin vessels were effectively surrounded, with the last ones maneuvering into position behind them.
Using loudspeakers, the commander of the Rhodope flotilla demanded the surrender of the Vidinite vessels. The captain of one of the vessels took offense to this, and opened fire - the vessel was promptly destroyed. After this show of force, the rest surrendered. To their surprise, on one of the vessels was Georgi Pirinski, effectively the Prime Minister of Vidin. While the soldiers, like all other prisoners, will be interviewed and dealt with after fighting ends, Pirinski is another matter. He will be locked up, and due to his American birth, an offer will likely be made to give him to any American state - or even Greece or Israel, for that matter - for trial.
After sunrise, Rhodope forces continued to advance upon the port. By day's end, they had secured the port fortifications, but isolated groups of Vidin soldiers continue to hold out in some of the warehouses along the waterfront, rendering it useless for the moment. But, Rhodope has now managed something else - the city has been split into pieces once again with the arrival of its soldiers on the river.
Elsewhere in the city, Rhodope forces made small advances, though this will change with the sun.
Vidinite officers expect them to try and capture the Residence of the Chairmen, where the Chairmen of the Councils of State and Ministers reside, next. Yet, the commander of the Rhodope forces have another plan in mind - while working to eliminate the southern pocket along the waterfront, forces in the north will attempt to link up and trap even more soldiers in the north.
Now that the port defenses and Vidinite ships have been eliminated as a threat, the Rhodopian and Transylvanian fleets can bombard and fire upon the remaining parts of the city at will - starting with the southern pockets.
With assistance from the vessels in the river, Rhodope forces snuffed out remaining resistance at the port, though it took most of the day. Advances were made around the port in both directions, in order to give it more security.
To the south of the port, forces advanced slightly, again with aid from Rhodopian vessels in the river. Artillery has been moved into position to bombard the troops trapped against the river as well.
In the north of the city, forces engaged in a general advance, from both the northwest and northeast, toward would at one time have been the Bononia District of the city. The northeastern forces are being supported by fire from the few Transylvanian boats on the river. A small advance toward the northernmost reaches of the city, in the direction of a strong-point there, also occurred.
At the siege lines around Belogradchik, near-constant reports of gunfire from within the city are occurring, and a trail of smoke could be observed coming from the downtown area of the city too. Despite all of this, the "walls" around the city seem to still be manned, though the numbers may have dropped somewhat over the last few days.
In addition to the two main offensive operations they have undergoing, Rhodopian forces made several small advances, clearing out several city blocks that they had partially held before, to major road arteries, making the lines more secure.
Forces near the port continued to put pressure upon the Vidinite soldiers trapped there, securing about half the territory there during the day. Forces there seem to be making preparations to make some sort of last stand at the cycling track, near the outer city defenses.
To the north, both Rhodope pincers continued to advance, meeting more and more resistance as the day went on. Unknown to them, the ex-soviet major, now in complete control of the city defenses, has figured out what the Rhodope commanders have planned. Even he admitted that they could not be stopped. As a result, he is pulling back the forces that would be surrounded to the northern strong-point, and the city core. In his delusions, he still plans on holing up there for the Siberian support he believes to be on its way, despite all evidence to the contrary - and all his subordinates continue to believe it to be true.
Today, artillery fire was heard from within Belogradchik - but was not fired anywhere near the outside defenses. Gunfire has continued unabated from within, and airborne scouts saw Vidin troops firing upon each other throughout the city center. By now, it is believed that some sort of revolt has started, though for unknown reasons sufficient forces still hold the walls to prevent an assault from being likely to succeed, even with artillery breaking them apart.
Rhodope forces continued today to mop-up Vidin units holed up in city blocks partly under their control, and expanded their zones of fire control in the squares on the southern edge of the city center as well.
In the south, Rhodope forces cleared the structures near the beach, and were almost in control of the beachfront and the beaches themselves by sundown. They have also made it within sight of the Cycling Tack where they are fortifying themselves for a last stand.
To the north, both pincers have almost linked up in the Bononia district. However, officers in the area suspect that Vidinite forces are pulling back, as a large amount of them have been observed going south through the small area left between the pincers. This has been given credibility by the ability of forces from the Northwest to advance near the northern defenses, to little resistance, in the late afternoon.
Rhodope Intelligence estimates that a bit less than one half of Vidinite troops inside Vidin remain at this time.
The situation in Belogradchik remains much the same, though several columns of smoke were observed today.
Rhodope forces linked up today inside Bononia, trapping some Vidinite forces to their north. Approximately half of Vidinite troops are estimated to have been able to evacuate beforehand, however. While the move had the effect of conserving more forces for the defense of central Vidin, the act itself also meant the weakening of the defenses there, so that the gap between pincers was closed faster than it would have been otherwise. As a result, most of Northern Vidin has now been occupied, and the northern strong-point will likely be besieged sometime tomorrow.
Forces have now taken the remainder of the southern beaches, and are laying siege to the cycling track. Artillery has been moved here for fire support, and it will be assaulted at dawn.
As Vidin forces retreat toward the core, Rhodope forces have advanced behind them. The net result has been that their forces are now almost at the center of the city from all sides. With the new fire control areas, the squares on the southern edge of downtown are also being advanced into again.
Vidin Commanders now think that their forces are all in the city center, despite all reasoning to the contrary - and the fact that they continue to get radio reports indicating otherwise from their northern strong-point. The few semi-rational commanders remaining are keeping quiet - the execution of all of their like-minded colleagues has seen to that.
During the night, many soldiers from the Belogradchik defenses appear to have left them, though Rhodope officers on the scene are unwilling to test it at this time. A fire was even noticed roaring above the city after dusk.
Rhodope forces cleared out much of the cycling track today, with only the locker rooms and nearby beaches still in the hands of the Vidinite troops by the end of the day. In the north, forces also advanced against Vidinite forces conducting a fighting retreat toward their strong-point there, but found their numbers to be greater than anticipated, so they were not able to besiege the position as anticipated by the end of the day.
Advances continued toward the city center, capturing several more city blocks, and encroaching on both the parks surrounding much of the downtown core and the residence of the chairmen.
During late afternoon, a series of explosions - including a single massive one - were heard from the center of Belogradchik, along with a massive amount of gunfire. Yet, by dusk, it had slackened off, and the forces at the city defenses were increasing in number again.
September 2nd - Grisly Finds
With the surrender of forces holed up in the locker rooms of the cycling track during late morning, the southern sector of the city is now clear of Vidinite forces. In the northern reaches, forces managed to finally lay siege to the strong-point there in mid-afternoon. Due to numbers there, it is likely that a surrender will be forced.
In the city center, about half of the parks to the west are now under Rhodope control, and the most of the rest have forces at the edge as well. Outside of the strong-point, advances against the north of the city center have now eliminated the last of Vidinite resistance in the city outside of the city center, as well. The castle that had been raided back on the 17th can also be seen now by some of the front-line troops to the north.
At high noon, the commotion of recent days from within Belogradchik finally became clear, when a white flag appeared over a small part of the defenses, and a small party of Vidinite officers walked to Rhodope lines under a flag of truce, wishing to speak with the commander of their forces. Some sort of surrender negotiations occurred, and the officers returned up ropes into the city.
Apparently, the commanders of the Vidinite forces, after their supplies had not showed up, had rationed the food in the city - but shorted their troops and the civilians on their shares while gorging themselves. As the rations had decreased, the troops had become increasingly hungry, and began to riot and later revolt. Eventually, the rebellious elements - small and easily put down at first - had grown dramatically, even including some of the officers, and eventually took control - the massive explosion the day before - over the city.
They demanded simple things - food, shelter, and humane treatment. In exchange, the Rhodope commanders demanded for them to give up what officers remained in the city who had not been part of the revolt, and the Chairman of the Council of State, Aleksandar Paunov, who was believed to be in charge of the city. Obviously, the city would be included. Some sort of arrangement was even added which would give them work following the war. The Vidinites returned to the city for the night, to discuss the terms amongst themselves.
In a shocking turn of events, the mystery of the lack of civilians found in the city has been solved: while clearing the rubble at the port, large piles of bodies were discovered.
September 3rd - Surrender of Belogradchik
At approximately 8 am this morning, the rebels again approached the lines under a white flag. They agreed to the terms, with one reservation: they wanted to be paid for the work, not to have anyone be forced to accept this work if they did not want to, and for any who wished to serve in the armed forces to be allowed to do so following some sort of period after the end of the war. They also were sad to announce that the Chairman had unfortunately perished in their takeover - but were able to point out a head wedged on the wall as being his.
The Rhodope commanders readily accepted this - unbeknown to the Vidinites, future plans called for the formal occupation and settlement of western Bulgaria as well as expeditions to the east, after the war's end. Their offer to serve in the Rhodope Army in some regard fit in perfectly.
The emissaries removed green cloths from their coats, and, standing outside, waved them at the city in some sort of signal. With that, an explosion occurred, leveling part of the wall, and allowing easy entry. The emissaries were almost shot, but the situation was defused - barely - before they were. Rhodope forces were then able to enter the city, and were taking surrenders late into the night. The artillery was quickly sent back to Vidin, to be used on the extensive fortifications in the city core.
Back in Vidin, Rhodope forces advanced through the parks around the inner core, establishing positions at the other side. In the process, they were also able to surround the Residence of the Chairmen, which had been turned into a fortress.
To the north of downtown, forces advanced to within firing range of the castle, whereupon fire from rifleman and archers in the towers managed to halt the advance. The situation would not be fixed until evening, when the flotilla on the river moved into position and was able to fire at the castle, though it was too late in the day to advance further.
Artillery began to be moved into position to assault the northern fortress, which is expected to happen sometime in the next few days.
Vidinite forces appear to be concentrating in the north of downtown, seemingly directed by someone in the government center complex. The Soviet major has locked himself and his staff up there, and is directing the troops from there, though the instructions are far from reasonable, for the most part.
Forces today, under the cover of fire from the river, managed to reach the north walls of the castle. In medieval style, hot oil being thrown over the walls is slowing advances further around it.
Elsewhere, artillery began to fire upon the northern stronghold, with holes being punched through the wall later that day. An assault will be attempted in the morning.
In general, Rhodopian forces advanced around the city core, jumping one of the main thoroughfares to the south in the process.
Rhodope army troops took the remainder of the surrenders inside Belogradchik today, and prepared to march back to Rhodope. Half of the troops - which outnumber the greatly-reduced Vidinite prisoners by about three to two - will be taking them to Smolyan to be dealt with, a quarter will be staying to pacify the area, and remainder will accompany the artillery to Vidin, to reinforce the troops for the final assaults.
The Rhodopian government today decided, in light of the bodies discovered at the port, and no replies from the former United States, that they will hold a trial for the Chairman in Smolyan, as they can execute him - and the LoN, who they likely should give him to, will not.
Just after dawn, an assault was launched at the northern stronghold, but was narrowly repulsed. Apparently, Army intelligence had got the number of troops wrong, and the amount of troops committed to the attack was too small to succeed. After it was declared failed at noon, artillery began to fire at it again. Another attempt will occur tomorrow.
Forces almost have the castle surrounded completely now. The defenders seem to have run out of oil, and are hurriedly erecting a defense barricade at the castle entrance, to try and hold off their enemies.
At the Chairmen's Residence, forces have had no luck at even getting close. Artillery will be needed, as it is well defended - and guns are in place and too numerous to allow satchel charges or the like.
The thoroughfare has been crossed, with buildings being seized on the other side, and more forces reaching it. In the south, a definite movement of Vidinite troops northward - as would be expected, given where their strongholds in the core are located - has been noticed, though advances in the south have little to show for it as of yet.
Backed by artillery, at 8am this morning another attack was launched upon the northern stronghold, with more troops than was the case yesterday. Though it took most of the day, forces were able to clear out the vast majority of it by nightfall. This time, they were also able to secure the ammunition held there before it could be blown, like at the other stronghold, though it is likely the degree of how close it came will be both debated, and a measure of great exaggeration in stories, for some time to come. By midnight, the remaining Vidinites inside who had not already surrendered were dispatched with grenades.
Following a day of preparation, the Rhodopian force set out around mid-morning from the base near Belogradchik southward with their prisoners. They plan on stopping along the way, leaving troops at the Rhodope outposts between Rhodope itself and Vidin territory, along with some or the prisoners at each point. It has also been decided to leave any of the prisoners with surviving family in the city behind, as well. It is considered likely that at least some of these troops will be used to aid Greek forces in some fashion after arriving in Smolyan.
The forces being sent to Vidin itself left at dawn, to hopefully catch up with the artillery that left the day before before dark falls. They are likely to arrive there on around the 10th.
In the remnants of downtown Vidin, the movement of Vidinite forces northward is becoming obvious, with large advances - for the area and compared to previous rates of advance - occurring to the south. Advances toward the government center, where Vidin troops seem to be concentrating, are occurring in slow increments, even being prevented in some areas. The first main thoroughfare in the area has now been cleared completely, and the second is being approached.
However, in a bit of good news, forces were finally able to surround the castle. Much to their surprise - and to the special forces leading the assault here as well - enemy soldiers have managed to greatly reinforce the entrance, and and fortify it, since the raid happened last month. Unlike before, this will have to be assaulted - and given its historical significance and walls, artillery cannot be used, and it is designed for sieges. They believe the leader of the mysterious "Soviet" Intelligence keeps hearing of to be here, though unbeknown to them, after the earlier raid, he refuses to set foot in the place, having since set up shop in the Government Center.
During the night, several Vidinite troops were observed fleeing the city across the river. While some were stopped, many made it across. The Transylvanians have in response beefed up their patrols in the area. It is, however, considered unlikely that any of the ones who made it will be caught alive. With the castle now surrounded, more of the flotilla can be moved southward to prevent a reoccurance, though several will remain in position to bombard the main entrance fortifications.
Advances in the south have once again slowed to a crawl, reinforced during the night from somewhere. By mid-afternoon, it was obvious that these troops had come from just south of the castle, and by nightfall large areas of the river valley there had been seized. Slow, small, advances also continue near the Government Center, though amounting to little, and with the front remaining static north of the complex. In response to the advances near the castle, the Major demanded troops pull back to his location even faster.
At the residence, artillery has finally moved up, and although not enough to break inside, it is enough to provide covering fire, though troops are still not enough to capture the place. When forces from Belogradchik arrive in a few days, with more artillery, the place will finally be assaulted. Elsewhere, troops have reached both ends of the second thoroughfare downtown.
Forces began to advance down the second main road in the city core today, and arrived at both ends of the third, near the river valley parks. Vidinite troops, in another random movement, are now pulling back troops from the south and the castle areas, allowing even more of the woods there to be secured. An advance also occurred to the west of the Government Center, with it now coming into sight.
A lack of rains in the area, leaving the roads much drier than expected, has now meant forces from Belogradchik are moving faster than anticipated, and will arrive sometime tomorrow. Along with forces being concentrated there currently, these forces will be used to destroy the Residence of the Chairmen - it will be burned to the ground.
Troops heading back to Smolyan have now left Vidin Province, and will likely hit the ruins of the city of Ferdinand, the site of the nearest Rhodope base and renamed from the communist name of Mihaylovgrad, sometime late tomorrow afternoon. The first groups of soldiers and prisoners will be dropped off here, to help establish order in the area and rebuild parts of the city, to be re-inhabited by settlers.
Georgi Pirinski, accompanied by a pair of armed guards, is being flown in the scout plane from near Vidin back to Smolyan, where he will be locked away until his trial. This will happen after the end of the war, so he can be joined by any others that need to be tried, if they can be captured.
The artillery train arrived at Vidin today, at around three in the afternoon. At nightfall, it was still being moved into position, but it will be used to lob incendiary shells at the Chairmens' Residence in the morning. The artillery on-scene already, along with demolition charges, was used throughout the day to remove nearby buildings, as a firebreak. The accompanying troops, after stopping at the current command post in the sports complexes, were sent toward the castle, where it is hoped they will make a difference.
The convoy leaving Vidin Province arrived at Ferdinand around seven this evening, dropping off its charges and making camp for the night. In the morning, they will head southward, toward the outpost at the former town of Svoge, north of the ruins of Sofia, where the procedure will repeat itself. This was chosen instead of heading eastward, to the outpost at Mezdra, since needing to go around the ruins of Vratsa makes it a less secure route.
Inside Vidin, forces remain stuck to the north of the government complex. However, those to the south made progress, securing small areas of the city, yet driving Vidinite troops out of around half of the river valley itself. The flotilla is aiding them in this, but will soon be largely made useless by the securing of the shoreline. Around half of the vessels will move to help against the castle, while the rest will go back to their main bases near the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant and the Transylvanian base at the river port of Drobeta.
Forces left behind at Belogradchik are planning to undertake actions sometime in the next week against Vidinite forces who fled the city last month, now believed to be hiding out in nearby rock formations.
September 10th - Fire, Fire, Everywhere!
After having been moved through most of the night, the new artillery pieces, along with the ones that had already been on the scene, opened fire at around four this morning, dropping incendiary shells on the Residence. Fires quickly spread over the roof of the building, eventually gutting the upper levels and then spreading to the lower floors, forcing out the soldiers inside. Loudspeakers called for them to drop their arms or be shot, but it would be at least thirty minutes until any most took the hint and did so. Rain later in the day put out the fires, and Army units occupied the remains that evening. Most of the defenders perished between the soldiers and fires.
The remainder of the river edge was occupied during the afternoon, along with nearby portions of the core. A small advance also occurred west of the Government complex, but failed to occupy much territory. An assault was attempted on the castle using the newly arrived troops, but was driven off.
The convoy left Ferdinand early this morning, and hopes to arrive at Svoge by Monday night. After a stopover for much of the day before at Elin Pelin, the Rhodopian outpost from which operations in the ruins of Sofia are directed, the plane carrying Pirinski arrived very early this morning in Smolyan. From there, Pirinski was moved to a solitary cell at military headquarters to await trial.
Forces that had been used against the Chairmens' Residence were moved during the morning toward the Government headquarters, where they were involved in an assault in late afternoon to the south of the complex that took several city blocks of territory, with the promise of more tomorrow. Elsewhere, troops failed at making any headway except at the castle, where they managed to get past the barricade at the entrance, and began to ram the main doors.
In an interesting turn of events, the Soviet major has taken to going to the roof of the complex and firing his pistol at Rhodope troops off in the distance. And, in a new element to his delusions, he has now begun to "see" soldiers advancing in the distance, beyond the Rhodope soldiers, which he believes will save them. Away from the Soviet, the army officers are growing desperate, and still more of them are being executed daily. They are now contemplating action of their own, but it is likely not feasible, given the beliefs of most of the remaining troops.
With the forces that were moved yesterday, further gains were made today. Vidinite forces were driven from several areas to the north, south, and east of the complex before dark. It is now under constant artillery fire, though the construction has yet to be broken in any significant way. Army commanders estimate it will be under siege, instead of being merely surrounded, within days. At the castle, troops ramming down the doors suffered a setback when burning liquid was poured onto the ram, preventing it from being used. By the time another was located and moved into position, it was too late in the day to continue.
Rhodopian forces at Belogradchik launched their attack into the rocks west of the city today, and largely drove the Vidinites there before them, though killed only a fairly small number of them. They did, however, get an estimate of their numbers - around eighty or so of them. This means they will not be as much of a threat, given that the population left in the area - very small, for the most part - will not support them. It is believed that they will try to get to friendly elements inside Serbia, though they will need to get past Macedonian forces for this to occur.
The convoy arrived at Svoge during mid-afternoon today, more or less right on schedule. They will leave for Elin Pelin at first light, a journey of nearly three days.
Back in Vidin, assaulting forces at the castle and near the government center both made progress. At the castle, they managed to break down the door, seizing the gatehouse before further barricades prevented more of it from being seized. Despite the smaller garrison, the construction of the place, having been designed for this type of thing, as well as the desire of the government to leave it as intact as possible, is making the place as much trouble as the main Vidinite fortress at the government center. There, forces managed to take control over more buildings, until the next major street.
The scout plane has returned to the city, and dropped leaflets, calling for surrender, over both holdouts. Reports of gunfire from within the government complex were registered mere hours later.
What had happened, as the imprisoned survivors would later tell investigators, was that the military commanders had finally decided it was time to launch their takeover attempt. Unfortunately for everyone - they had planned to surrender - one of their inner circle had actually been a spy for the major, and the soviet knew exactly where to find them and prevent success. A firefight, which the commanders lost, ensued - most of them died, and the major had the survivors treated in order to ensure they survived to play in his "games" later on. Their survival can be attributed to the major having forgot about them, and nothing more.
Today, Rhodopian troops were finally able to reach positions just outside the walls of the government complex. However, like with the castle, the place was prepared for a siege - oil was poured on any who got too close. Artillery that has been supporting the advance began to fire on the walls, though even with the heavy artillery it will not come fast. And, after smashing their was in, the complex has several buildings to make matters worse - all need to be taken.
The same is true with the castle. Breaking through barricades at the gatehouse, troops were able to seize much of the curtain wall and most of the battlements during the day. However, fanatical resistance prevented a breakthrough into the courtyards. With dawn, however, it is likely that with Rhodopian troops in control of the walls that these defenders will be forced to retreat into the keep and other fortified buildings.
After leaving another group at the outpost, the convoy continued onward to Elin Pelin at dawn. The largest batch of the prisoners and soldiers are to be left there, with the ask of hunting the non-irradiated areas of the former city of Sofia for anything of use.
Using their commanding positions on the walls and battlements of the castle, Rhodopian troops were able to take control over the courtyards. Barricades in the doorways of the inner buildings - the keep, forges, storage rooms and barns - prevented further access. They will need to be forced individually over the next few days.
Artillery continues to batter the walls of the Government Center, though without any sort of progress. Firebombs began to be launched over the walls about noon, but with little effect, given the construction of the buildings, which are mostly made of stone or concrete. While the flammable sections on the outside were burned away, little damage occurred besides, and entry was still blocked.
For the large part, the inside of the complex survived intact, with almost all the defenders surviving. Though, a lot of them suffered minor smoke inhalation and singed hair - The major even lost his trademark Stalin mustache! The military commanders, by now removed from command, along with their loyal troops have also been completely dispensed with - all defenses are now under the control of members of the Soviet.
The first breeches in the complex walls were made today. While Rhodopian forces were unable to make use of it, its existence is a good sign.
At the castle, troops rammed their way into the storage rooms this afternoon. Several of the rooms were blown by their defenders in order to prevent capture, facilitated by the gunpowder stored there. Commanders have also sent a request to burn out the defenders of the barns, which they feel can easily have their insides rebuilt later on.
The convoy arrived safely at Elin Pelin this morning. They will leave for the main base of the Plovdiv recovery missions, in the rebuilding city of Pazardzhik, at first light. They are due for arrival there on the 19th, and from there should arrive in Smolyan sometime on the 20th.
Units at the castle received permission to set fire to the interior of the barns, and promptly did so. Within twenty minutes, the defenders had been forced out. Forces also stormed the keep, occupying the lower levels amidst heavy resistance.
The breech in the complex defenses was widened over the course of the day, and an assault was launched, securing the area around it. Scouts flying above the area also reported the collapse of the higher levels of several buildings, likely due to the fires the day before having drastically weakened some support beams. More is expected as fighting increases, and more shells hit the now-weakened structures.
September 18th: Castle Victory
Using grenades to clear out areas of the keep ahead of them, advancing troops reached the uppermost chambers by dusk today, finding themselves in the luxurious headquarters of the Soviet. While damaged from the August raid, the troops were still shocked by the extreme amounts of luxury there, when compared to the extreme poverty seen in the city itself. Vidinite troops attempted to hold out in the forges, but their commander, likely addled somewhat by radiation, attempted, with his soldiers, to hold a position opposite a vat of still-molten metal. Rhodopian troops were easily able to overturn it in their direction, melting them alive and causing resistance in the castle to cease, as well as providing half the building with a nice new metal floor.
At the government center, soldiers have now moved their mortars into the compound, and have begun to fire them into the buildings, causing yet more to fail structurally. Despite this, resistance has kept up, with the troops here being the most radical yet. At least once during the day, reports reached Rhodope commanders in the area of wounded Vidinites blowing themselves up to prevent the "Capitalist Dogs" from taking them alive, similar to Japanese diehards from the Second World War. It is so bad that medics are beginning to refuse to treat such soldiers until they have been stripped clean of everything, even clothes. Progress is being made as well, and the gap in the walls is being expanded yet further. By the time the complex is secured, it will be nothing but rubble.
The vast majority of the complex came under the control of Rhodopian forces over the course of the day. Of course, calling it "controlled" is not wholly accurate - at least two thirds of it is now rubble. The only intact areas are around the buildings where the Vidinite commanders are believed to be holed up. A few of their military commanders were also located inside a prison, confirming a belief that a rebellion had been attempted. Reports of screaming, maniacal laughing, and other spooky phenomena seemingly coming from the central building also reached Rhodope Army officers, though unknown as to why.
Inside the Vidinite command center, the major has finally flipped completely. Using his sword, he even "removed" the other members of the soviet from the chamber. He does, however, remain in command - given what befell the others, no one dares even respond to his orders.
The convoy arrived at Pazardzhik at midday, dropping off the troops and prisoners before continuing into Rhodope itself, where they will stop somewhere for the night, finally being in secure territory. They will arrive in Smolyan sometime tomorrow afternoon, considering the quality of the roads here, which are vastly superior to anywhere else in Bulgaria.
September 20th: Victory
At 4:15 pm today, the convoy finally arrived inside Smolyan, to much fanfare. Yet, it would not be the highlight of the afternoon.
Mere minutes prior to their arrival, news was received from Vidin. Most of the remaining buildings inside the city had been taken, and artillery was brought to bear on the headquarters building. It had been mined to the point where unacceptable casualties would be taken to even get close, so the order was given to level the place. By approximately 4:12 pm, Smolyan time, rumblings had begun to be heard from the structure. And suddenly, it collapsed into a pile of rubble, setting off all the mines in the process. Several more could be heard going off well into the night.
With this announced, crowds all over Rhodope broke into displays of joy, firing guns into the air and dancing, well into the night.
With the destruction of the last Vidinite holdout, the war officially ended. Yet rumblings from southwest and southeast, along with the ADC-Sicily War, will make this peace a very uneasy one indeed.
It would take weeks to dig through the rubble, but forces would eventually find the remains of the major and his cronies. Apparently, they had been at the top of the building, surrounded by cushions, bedding, and the like, which when combined with their position, led to the fall not quite killing them, and burying them alive. But, they had landed in a spot surrounded by intact land mines - the scars in the rubble were plain - which slowly went off, killing them all. It was considered a very fitting death for that scum by the searchers.
Most of the Rhodopian troops at Vidin, along with much of the artillery and remaining prisoners, set off east and then south, back toward Smolyan. Stopping at Belogradchik to pick up more troops and prisoners as well as drop off some of the artillery, they continued southeastward to outposts at the former towns of Ferdinand, Kozloduy, Iskar, Lukovit, Teteven, and Panagyurishte. Arriving at Pazardzhik from there, they arrived back in Smolyan on October 9th, and were given a glorious welcome by the city and the national government.
Despite the elimination of the Vidinite government and the destruction of its Armed Forces, elements, largely those which escaped into Serbia, but also some who remained in the area, continue to be a thorn in the side of the Rhodopian troops in the area. Given what captured weaponry consists of, they are definitely being armed by their Serbian contacts. Intelligence also indicates some support by the Serbian government, who at the very least have been employing them as mercenaries, to some degree, though anything else is unknown for sure.
The lands between Vidin and Rhodope, with the Vidinites now gone, have now been opened for settlement, in the areas around army outposts and the plant at Kozloduy. While it is intended to be largely for Bulgarians, citizens of Greece and Transylvania have also been invited to colonize the area as well, though not many are expected to take up the offer. This, however, does not apply to outposts inside former Vidin territory or near the Serbian and Macedonian borders.
The former province of Vidin was devastated in the fighting. Its cities and towns were essentially destroyed, and due to a combination of the fighting, and the deaths inflicted on the civilians by the Vidinite government - the extent of which will likely never be known - it is also severely de-populated. Around ninety-five to a hundred and ten thousand people are estimated to have perished in the region, between the Vidinite government and the war itself, with about fifteen thousand soldiers having been taken prisoner and another twenty thousand civilians, largely in Belogradchik, Kula, and the surrounding areas, remaining alive. It will be decades before the region recovers at all, especially since the majority of the soldiers taken prisoner will likely not return. In fact, Vidin itself is to be largely abandoned, with the local seat of government shifting to Belogradchik - only patrols, a base and the river port will really remain at Vidin for the foreseeable future. Transylvanian and Macedonian forces have been promised to aid in hunting down the rebels, for they pose a threat to the entire region, if they are indeed in the pay of the Serbians.
Of course, for Rhodope itself the war was not kind. Out of the military forces involved in the area, about forty-six thousand became casualties, a number which will likely increase given the Vidinite rebels still active in parts of the region. Around seventy-five hundred of the remainder remain in the area, to maintain order and keep possession. Of the other twenty-two thousand, around twelve thousand have been devoted to the various outposts, allowing the government to finally take full possession, and to allow resettlement to begin. The other ten thousand returned to Smolyan, with half leaving the military, since their enlistments were up, and the other being split into forces to be sent to Thrace, reliving Greek forces in Bulgarian-inhabited areas, and to start exploring the east, with the additional goal of finding a site to construct a port on the Black Sea and building an outpost there. Several potential sites, largely northeast of the ruins of Burgas, have been researched by government officials, and the teams will have a long look at these while there, and will build an outpost at the designated location that they choose.
The prisoners, who will be under the control of the government for the foreseeable future, have been put to work building roads and homes near the outposts, and constructing industry in Smolyan and other cities. A sizable number have also been added to the Armed Forces, and will join the forces being sent east. They are all being paid for the work, and as soon as the government decides what to do with them they will be released from servitude. It is considered likely that they will be paired with Rhodopian war widows and sent to the new colonies, especially those in Thrace or on the Black Sea.