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NATO-led troops on the move in northern Kosovo

kosovo

Kosovo’s NATO-led peacekeepers moved troops through the Serb-dominated north on Thursday, amid high tensions with Belgrade on the eve of a parliament vote to create a Kosovo army, AFP reports.

A spokesman for the international KFOR forces, which guarantees the security of the former Serbian province, confirmed the deployment and told AFP it was part of “normal exercises all around Kosovo”.

“We have a couple of convoys moving around. One of them is going today to the north,” said KFOR spokesman Vincenzo Grasso, adding that there was no reason for alarm.

During the morning around 50 KFOR vehicles moved through the divided city of Mitrovica and headed north in the direction of Leposavic, a mostly Serb municipality in Kosovo.

Zoran Todic, the top official in Leposavic, confirmed their presence and said the troops were “heavily armed and equipped to prevent demonstrations”.

KFOR troops were later seen returning south, according to an AFP correspondent.

On Twitter, the peacekeeping mission’s official account said it was conducting “a regular training activity to keep ready to be rapidly deployed all over Kosovo” in line with its mandate.

The exercise comes during a tense moment between Kosovo and Serbia, who is fiercely against Pristina’s plans to turn its crisis response force into a full-fledged army.

KFOR, which has more than 4,000 troops, has been deployed in Kosovo since the end of the 1998-99 war between Serb forces and Kosovo Albanian separatists, which left more than 13,000 dead.