Under tensions between Belgrade, Pristina, KFOR units were seen in Kosovo’s north.
The NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeepers were spotted late on Saturday in the city of Kosovska Mitrovica, located in the north of Serbia’s breakaway region of Kosovo.
Local media showed footage of the incident that shows the force as it appeared to be an Italian carabinieri unit. The bridge separates the city’s northern Serb-populated area from the south, which is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Albanians.
KFOR (the NATO-led peacekeeping operation) stated in statementOn Sunday evening, it was “prepared to intervene if stability is jeopardized.”
It seems that peacekeepers from Italy are watching the “New Bridge”, which separates the Serbian-Albanian sides of Mitrovica, Northern Kososo’s city. pic.twitter.com/EDEUbpJ7ML
— Kyle Glen (@KyleJGlen) July 31, 2022
KFOR is reportedly on high alert. A large convoy of about 30-40 military vehicles was spotted headed towards the frontier of the separatist region and Serbia. Special police from Kosovo was also seen moving equipment and personnel.
KFOR claimed it would “take whatever measures are necessary to keep a safe and secure environment in Kosovo at all times, in line with its UN mandate.”
According to reports, ethnic Serbs set up barricades along roads in Kosovska Mitrovica or its environs. As he tried breaking through the barricades, at least one Serb was apparently beaten by Kosovo police. According to reports, the injured man was eventually admitted to hospital.
These tensions arise as the controversial proposal to ban Serb plates and identification cards by the ethnic Albanian government in the region’s breakaway province was advanced. Albin Kurti, Kosovo’s prime minister, claimed that the decision was about equality of justice and law across all territories that his government claims.
Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian President, accused Kosovo Authorities of Trying to “impose on the people in northern Kosovo-Metohija things they have no right to impose,”Warning: Belgrade won’t stand still.
“The atmosphere has been heated up, and the Serbs will not suffer any more atrocities,”Vucic stated.
The Serbian president claimed earlier that the registration plan was part of an effort by Serbia to expel the remaining ethnic Serbs of Kosovo.
Caroline Ziadeh, head of the UN mission in the province UNMIK, urgedEach side “to address issues in good faith through the EU-facilitated dialogue, to strengthen stability and security for all.”
After a 78 day air war against Yugoslavia, NATO invaded Kosovo and occupied it in 1999. With the support of most allies and the US, the province declared its independence in 2008. However, it hasn’t received widespread support. The UN, China, Serbia and Russia have all refused to recognize the breakaway region.
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