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Yugoslavia: Troops Enter Buffer Zone

Belgrade, 15 May 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Yugoslav troops have been given permission to enter the last, and most sensitive, part of a buffer zone which separates Kosovo from the rest of Serbia. The decision was made yesterday by NATO ambassadors in Brussels, with the deployment due later this month (24 May).

The five-kilometer-deep buffer area is a stronghold of ethnic Albanian fighters, who use the area to launch attacks inside Serbia.

Yugoslavia welcomed NATO's decision. Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic said Yugoslavia is now able to control its territory, which he said was a "big breakthrough."

Late yesterday, the Yugoslav army announced its forces had ousted ethnic Albanian fighters from the village of Oraovica, near the buffer zone. More fighting was reported further north near the town of Vranje.