Battle of Verakoni Gap
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The Battle of Verakoni Gap (Vierz: Schlacht am Werakoni-Lücke, Luepolan: Bitva u Verakonskem prohode, Cestrosian: Μάχη της Βερακόνου) was a decisive battle of the Great War between the Allied Powers and Luepola, in the valley surrounding the Cestrosian town of Verakoni. The Luepolan Army and Simoran Army, hoping to break the deadlock on the Southern Front, initiated an offensive through the secondary valley passage through the Cestrosian Mountains, after having found itself unable to advance through the Kratiros valley, the primary passage through the region. Luepolan general Emil Hužak sought to punch through the passage and break out into the Cestrosian Plain, forcing the Allies to withdraw from Kratiros and allowing Luepola to follow up with a general offensive.
The Luepolan-Simoran offensive began on 28 June. The first week of the offensive saw major Luepolan gains as they advanced through the valley and overran Verakoni. The battle forced the advance of a Vonzumieran division previously undergoing R&R to the frontline; these units suffered significant fatigue as they battled the well-rested Luepolans. The offensive continued, with the Luepolans pushing to within 10 miles of the end of the opening of the gap.
The tide of the battle swung in the Allies' favor on 12 July, as the Vonzumieran 2nd Alpine Division and Cestrosian 1st Mountain Division launched a surprise counter-offensive in the mountains surrounding the gap following a diversionary attack on the Luepolan army's main positions in the valley itself. Luepolan general Ivan Savičević argued for the withdrawal of Luepolans from the gap to avoid encirclement, but was struck down by Anton Marusić, who ordered the army to halt and defend their positions. As confusion engulfed the operational command in the battle, Simoran general Krešimir Ogrin ordered the withdrawal of his forces from the pocket, spreading confusion among the remaining Luepolan ranks, with some units abandoning their positions and attempting to withdraw. With his army in disarray, Savičević ordered the withdrawal of his forces, but was too late to prevent his troops from being encircled by the allies. With an encirclement complete, the Cestrosians deployed anti-aircraft weapons to thwart the airborne reinforcement of the Verakoni pocket as the Vonzumierans, reinforced by a tank division, surged into the Luepolan lines. On 22 July, Luepolan Army commander Đuro Hladnik surrendered to the Vonzumieran army. With the main Luepolan force eliminated, the Vonzumieran army powered to the northern end of the gap, where emergency Luepolan reinforcements and Ogrin's army had been hastily organized to contain the outbreak. With the gap fully under Vonzumieran control, the Allied forces were able to deploy tank divisions into the Simoran plain.
The Battle of Verakoni Gap, along with the Battle of Tarphos that would follow a month later, saw the tide of the Southern Front turn in favor of the Allies. For his failure, Savičević was stripped of rank and executed by firing squad.