Turkish forces arrive in Kosovo to bolster NATO-led peacekeepers - M5 Dergi
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Turkish forces arrive in Kosovo to bolster NATO-led peacekeepers

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The Turkish commando battalion requested by NATO has arrived in Kosovo to assist in quelling recent violent unrest in the Balkan country.

The Turkish Defense Ministry shared a video on June 4 showing troops wearing the insignia of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force departing from Türkiye and arriving in Kosovo.

The first convoy of the commando battalion from the 65th Mechanized Infantry Brigade Command in the border region of Lüleburgaz has been transferred to Kosovo “to ensure peace and tranquility,” the ministry stated.

Violent clashes with ethnic Serbs on May 29 left 30 international soldiers, 11 Italians and 19 Hungarians wounded, including fractures and burns from improvised explosive incendiary devices.

The clashes grew out of a confrontation that unfolded earlier after ethnic Albanian officials elected in votes overwhelmingly boycotted by Serbs entered municipal buildings to take office and were blocked by Serbs.

Around 500 Turkish troops would be deployed, a Defense Ministry official said last week.

NATO announced on May 30 that it would be sending 700 troops to bolster the force in the area. KFOR currently consists of almost 3,800 troops, including some 350 from Türkiye.

The request for additional troops came from NATO’s Joint Force Command Naples. The battalion will be joining KFOR as a reserve unit.

Last week, international efforts to defuse the crisis in Kosovo intensified as ethnic Serbs held more protests in a northern town where clashes with NATO-led peacekeepers left dozens injured and sparked fears of renewed conflict in the troubled region.

Hundreds of Serbs had repeated at a rally that they want the Kosovo special police and ethnic Albanian officials they call “fake” mayors to withdraw from northern Kosovo where they are a majority. The crowd then spread a huge Serbian flag.

The leaders of France and Germany also urged their counterparts in Kosovo and Serbia to agree on holding new municipal elections in northern Kosovo.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that he and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had advocated for fresh mayoral elections in four municipalities and questioned the democratic legitimacy of the votes held in northern Kosovo in April.

“What we have asked both parties is very simple: The organization as soon as possible for new elections in these four municipalities,” Macron said at the European Political Community summit in Bulboaca, Moldova. “Four mayors were elected with the votes of less than 5 percent of the voters, which is obviously not a condition of legitimacy.”

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