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Albania: Italian, Greek Troops Move Into Rebel-Held Port

Vlore, 21 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Italian and Greek forces have begun deploying without serious incident today in the rebel-held Albanian port of Vlore.

Italian marines accompanied about 30 tanks and armored personnel carriers which arrived on beaches near the port. The marines took up defensive positions as equipment was loaded on shore.

News agency reports quote Italian officers as saying the operation has gone very well with no reports of altercations so far.

The Italian forces are being joined by hundreds of Greek and Italian forces arriving in Vlore by ground transport from the government-held city of Fier.

The Italian-led multinational force, which will number 6,000 troops overall, is being deployed throughout Albania to help safeguard aid shipments to the country.

The rebels controlling much of southern Albania reject the authority of President Sali Berisha, blaming him for the collapse of investment schemes that provoked the country's widespread revolt in February.