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Kosovar Peacekeepers Sent On First Mission Abroad

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Kosovo Security Force Prepares For First Ever Peacekeeping Mission Abroad
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Kosovo has sent an army platoon to Kuwait to take part in young country's first-ever international peacekeeping mission.

A ceremony was held on March 9 at the military barracks in the capital, Pristina, in the presence of top leaders and Western military attaches.

The unit will be deployed following a request from the U.S. Central Command.

Kosovo’s lightly armed military is expected to have 5,000 troops and 3,000 reservists. They are heavily supported by the United States.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The move followed a bloody war between separatist ethnic Albanian rebels and Serb forces that ended in 1999 after a 78-day NATO air campaign to drive Serb troops out and allow a peacekeeping force to move in.

The country is recognized by most Western nations, but not by Belgrade and its allies Russia and China.

“It’s extremely important because 22 years after the war, we’re not just importing peacekeeping troops, we’re also exporting them,” Kosovo's acting President Vjosa Osmani said.

The peacekeeping platoon from Kosovo will be under the command of the National Guard of Iowa.

No precise details were given on their expected location in Kuwait, or the actual number of peacekeepers to be deployed. However, a platoon of 32 soldiers was seen lined up during the ceremony.

The 3,400-troop Kosovo Security Force was turned into a regular army two years ago, although its name has not been changed to armed forces as planned.

Tensions over Kosovo remain a source of volatility in the Balkans.

With reporting by AP
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