Units of NATO-led KFOR have been spotted in northern Kosovo region amid tensions between Belgrade and Pristina
Peacekeepers of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) were spotted late Saturday in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica, located in the north of Serbia’s breakaway region of Kosovo.
The force, apparently Italian carabinieri units, was seen guarding a bridge over the River Ibar, images of the scene circulated by local media. The bridge divides the city into the northern part populated by Serbs and the southern part mainly inhabited by ethnic Albanians.
KFOR, the NATO-led peacekeeping mission, said in a: pronunciation on sunday night that it was “willing to intervene if stability is compromised.”
Italian peacekeepers are apparently standing guard tonight at the “New Bridge” separating the Serbian and Albanian sides of the town of Mitrovica in northern Kososo. pic.twitter.com/EDEUbpJ7ML
— Kyle Glen (@KyleJGlen) July 31, 2022
KFOR has reportedly been placed on high alert, with a large military convoy of some 30-40 vehicles spotted heading for the border between the breakaway region and the rest of Serbia. The Kosovo Special Police has also been actively reported moving equipment and personnel.
KFOR said it would “take all measures necessary to maintain a safe and secure environment in Kosovo at all times, in accordance with its UN mandate.”
Ethnic Serbs have reportedly erected barricades on several roads in Kosovska Mitrovica and the surrounding area. At least one Serb was reportedly beaten up by Kosovar police units as he tried to get through the barricades. The injured man reportedly ended up in hospital.
Tensions come as the ethnic Albanian government of the breakaway region continues its controversial plan to ban Serbian license plates and identification documents. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti claimed the move was about equal justice and justice in all areas his government claims.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accused the Kosovo authorities of seeking “imposing things to the people in the north of Kosovar Metohija that they should not impose”, warn that Belgrade does not stand idly by.
“The atmosphere has warmed up and the Serbs will not suffer any more atrocities,” he said. said Vucic.
Earlier, the Serbian president claimed that the controversial registration plan was part of an effort to expel the remaining ethnic Serbs from Kosovo.
Caroline Ziadeh, Head of the UN Mission in UNMIK Province, insisted both sides “to address issues in good faith through the EU-facilitated dialogue, to strengthen stability and security for all.”
NATO occupied Kosovo in 1999, after a 78-day air war against what was then Yugoslavia. The province unilaterally declared independence in 2008 with the support of the US and most of its allies. However, the breakaway region has not received universal support, and Serbia, Russia, China and the UN as a whole do not recognize it.
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