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Yugoslavia: Forces Move Into Buffer Zone


Gorlemo Brdo, Yugoslavia; 24 May 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Yugoslav forces today started moving back into the last sector of a buffer zone separating Kosovo from the rest of Serbia. Tanks and armored personnel carriers are backing up a force of more than 4,000 troops and special police advancing into the hills.

NATO imposed the five-kilometer-deep zone following its 1999 bombing campaign against Yugoslavia to keep Yugoslav forces away from the alliance's peacekeepers and the province's mainly ethnic Albanian populace.

But ethnic Albanian fighters have used the zone to launch attacks against Yugoslav police and military. Yugoslav forces have been moving back into the zone over the past two months after an agreement was reached with NATO.

But today's deployment is considered sensitive because the rebels were most active in Sector B. As a precaution, more NATO-led peacekeepers were deployed in the area yesterday, even though most Albanian fighters earlier this week agreed to disband.

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