NATO-LED TROOPS ON THE MOVE IN NORTHERN KOSOVO




Serhat TUNAR –TDO- Kosovo's NATO-led peacekeepers moved troops through the Serb-dominated north on 13 December, an AFP correspondent reported, amid high tensions with Serbia on the eve of a vote to create a Kosovo army.

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.

About 50 KFOR vehicles moved through the city of Mitrovica and headed north in the direction of Leposavic, a mostly Serb municipality, an AFP correspondent said.

The top local official in Leposavic municipality confirmed troops were in the village of Dren on the morning of 13 December.

The movement comes as Kosovo lawmakers prepare to vote 14 December to transform a local crisis response force into a full-fledged army.

The vote has outraged Belgrade, which refuses to accept the independence Kosovo declared in 2008, a decade after a brutal guerrilla war.

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.