Date: Thu, 25 Jun 98 15:10:47 CDT
From: Kosova Crisis Center News and Information <>
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Kosova Liberation Army extends the front line

ARIA, Kosova News, nr.10, 23 June 1998

SHKABĖ, FUSHĖ-KOSOVĖ, 23 June (ARTA): KLA units in Ēiēavicė have extended the front line in the direction of Fushė-Kosovė, in the quick action undertaken during these past two days. Thus, the majority of the villages of Fushė-Kosovė and Obiliq are under KLA control.

KLA units entered this area yesterday morning, only to take positions in many strategic points of this region. KLA now controls the coal enterprise “Kosova” in Bellaqefc and the asphalt road that leads to these villages from the direction of Sllatinė. Otherwise, large “Yugoslav” military forces are still concentrated around this region, as well as the asphalt road links it with Shkabė (Obiliq).

The Serb civilians, employees in “Kosova” enterprise, were allowed to pass through this territory, but the security workers were disarmed. Many young Albanians have adhered to the KLA units.

Soldiers at the military barrack in Pomozotin, which is situated only tens of meters away from the new front line, have withdrawn.

KLA units appeal to the people living in the region that they control, not to abandon their houses, asking those that have fled to return because they will be guaranteed complete security.


June 23 (KIC)—Heavy fighting was reported in the area dividing Drenica and Rrafshi i Dukagjinit between Serbian military and police troops and Albanian resistance forces on Monday evening, local sources said.

In retaliation, Serb troops set ablaze the entire village of Jellovc as well as parts of the village of Jashanicė.

Today (Tuesday), Agron (Murtez) Brahimi (26), resident of the Korrotica e Poshtme village, was seriously wounded by Serb snipers during the passage of a Serb convoy from Komoran to Prishtina. Likewise today, Adem Brahimi (60) and Petrit Brahimi (14) were wounded in their homes at Zabel i Ulėt of Gllogovc.


June 23 (KIC)—Overnight and today morning, Serbian military forces continued shelling villages of the Reka e Keqe region in Gjakova, especially targeting Morinė and Smolicė villages in the border area with Albania, local sources said. In the morning hours yesterday, there was considerable material damage caused by Serbian shelling of the villages of Nec, Smolicė, Stubėll and Berjah.

The area under Serbian shelling extended further yesterday, including the village of Ramoc, where many houses suffered damages. The house of Zef Ndrejaj was levelled to the ground.

The Albanian population of the threatened area has been on the move. Meanwhile, for an hour, from 16:30 through 17:30 hrs yesterday (Monday), Serbian forces attacked with artillery the village of Bllacė in the municipality of Lumi i Thate (Suhareka).

Reportedly, the gas station in the village, as well as the local health centers, were damaged during the Serb attack. The owner of the gas station, Rifat Bekteshi, was lightly wounded when a grenade exploded in the vicinity.

Despite the Serbian attack, the inhabitants of the village have not fled, sources said.


In 1912 and 1998, Serbs kill Albanians in Kosova, destroy their houses, plunder their property

PRISHTINA, June 23 (KIC)—The appalling atrocities committed by Serbs against Albanians in Kosova, the dirty Serbian war of ethnic cleansing, has assumed a status of notoriety.

Two accounts, given below, are evidence to the unchanging and outrageous pattern of Serb violence in Kosova, at the beginning and at the end of the 20th century.

1. Leon Trotsky, a war correspondent for ‘Pravda’ during the Balkan Wars (1912-13), was given the following account by a Serbian army officer: “The horrors actually began as soon as we crossed into Kosovo.

Entire Albanian villages had been turned into pillars of fire, dwellings, possessions accumulated by fathers and grandfathers were going up in flames, the picture was repeated the whole way to Skopje. There the Serbs broke into Turkish and Albanian houses and performed the same task in every case: plundering and killing. For two days before my arrival in Skopje the inhabitants had woken up to the sight of heaps of Albanian corpses with severed heads. Among the mass of soldiers you see Serb peasants who have come from every part of Serbia on the pretext of looking for their sons and brothers. They cross the plain of Kosovo and start plundering, from the area around Vranje the population has crossed over en masse into the Albanian villages to pick up whatever may catch the eye. Peasant women carry away even the doors and windows of Albanian houses.” (See Leon Trotsky,The Balkan Wars—1912-1913, New York, 1980, f.267)

2. The story of a Kosova Albanian, relayed by the Reuters writer Kurt Schork on Monday, 22 June 1998—86 years after the Serb occupation of Kosova—offered a fresh account of the predicament of Albanians and their property in the hands of Serb forces, here and today.

A month ago, 31-year old Bahtir Kastrati was holed up with his extended family in the village of Kladernica inside the Drenica triangle, a wedge of land surrounded by Serbian security forces west of the capital of Prishtina, Reuters writes from Brojė, a village in Drenica, Kosova.

Then the story goes on:

“The Kastratis had fled their homes in Broje, on foot, on March 5 after Serbian security force attacks on nearby villages in the Drenica area killed 80 people, including 25 women and children. As luck would have it, Serbian police established a massive checkpoint and observation post in Broje, immediately adjacent to the Kastratis' abandoned family compounds—walled enclosures of modest homes.”

After Serbian forces pulled out from there, Bahtir Kastrati and his family walked home from Kladernica on June 2, and found their property a shambles.

“What the Serbs didn’t steal they destroyed,” the distraught father of five told Reuters on Monday.

“The took all the furniture, the clothes and appliances. They even stole the doors and the windows. We lost 11 tractors and two automobiles from the 34 Kastrati houses. They set some houses on fire.”

“The bastards spoiled our winter stores of pickled vegetables by pouring paint on them. Savages.”

Kastrati took reporters on a tour that confirmed his description.

3. Hundreds of such and even more tragic stories remain dormant in Deēan and Gjakova districts, in the sealed off area where Serb military and paramilitary forces razed entire Albanian villages and the town of Deēan itself in the past three weeks.




June 19, 1998

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

In my last 6-month report to the Congress I provided further information on the deployment of combat-equipped U.S. Armed Forces to Bosnia and other states in the region in order to participate in and support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led Stabilization Force (SFOR), which began its mission and assumed authority from the NATO-led Implemen-tation Force (IFOR) on December 20, 1996. I am providing this supplemental report, consistent with the War Powers Resolution, to help ensure that the Congress is kept fully informed on continued U.S. contributions in support of peacekeeping efforts in the former Yugoslavia.

We continue to work in concert with others in the international community to encourage the parties to fulfill their commitments under the Dayton Peace Agreement and to build on the gains achieved over the last 2 years…

A U.S. Army contingent remains deployed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as part of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP). This U.N. peacekeeping force, which includes some 350 U.S. soldiers, observes and monitors conditions along the borders with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Albania. The UNPREDEP continues to play a key role in preventing the spillover of ethnic conflict from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) into FYROM and the region. In doing so, it has helped FYROM become a bulwark against the southward spread of the conflict in the FRY. Several U.S. Army helicopters are also deployed to provide support to U.S. forces and may support UNPREDEP as required on a case-by-case basis. The Security Council voted December 4, 1997, to authorize an extension of the UNPREDEP mandate through August 31, 1998. We are currently exploring options regarding the extension of UNPREDEP's mandate in light of the growing violence and instability in Kosovo.

I will continue to consult closely with the Congress regarding our efforts to foster peace and stability in the former Yugoslavia.




UN: The United Nations special envoy to Bosnia, Elisabeth Rehn, has said Nato intervention is needed to stop violence and human rights abuses against the ethnic Albanians who make up most of Kosovo's population. Mrs Rehn said that she was sceptical that diplomatic negotiations would go anywhere. “There have been diplomatic consultations before, but all promises were broken,” she said.

ARTA: Both German and Russian Foreign Ministers, Kinkel and Primakov, agreed that diplomatic pressure should continue being applied by all means, in order to stop the conflict and the further escalation of the violence. They agreed to allow the German Government to organize the Contact Group meeting in Bonn. Both ministers agreed on international community involvement in talks between Belgrade and Prishtina, as well as the urgency of withdrawing special military troops from Kosova.

From this point, the Russian Minister warned that the withdrawal of the Serb troops could cause a new wave of Serb refugees, who would immediately move out of Kosova due to the insecurity.

The Ministers agreed that pressure should continue being applied on Milosevic says the communiqué issued by the German Foreign Ministry states.

ARTA: The Albanian Premier, Fatos Nano, said on Monday in Vienna, that Albanians are at war with another people—Serbs. “The Albanian nation is still living in a world, surrounded by dangers and enemies”, he added. In the speech he made at the meeting that NATO member states and countries involved in the program “Partnership for Peace” held in Vienna, Nano appealed for NATO troops to be stationed in Albania to prevent the conflict in Kosova from spilling over the borders.

“We are requesting for harsh measures to be taken against Belgrade, for troops to be stationed along the border, so the conflict does not expand”, Nano said during the forum “Bruno-Kranjski”, organized by former Austrian chancellor, which was held in Vienna.

“Most of the Albanians that fled, want to get arms in Albania and return to fight in Kosova, in defense of their homes and property which are being attacked by Serb forces”, he stated. He appealed to the KLA and political leadership of Ibrahim Rugova to cooperate.

Nano said that his government considers that the solution to the conflict must be achieved by making Kosova FRY“s third constitutional unit—republic.

However, the Albanian Premier, expressed his pessimism about the possibility of finding a peaceful solution to the issue of Kosova, stressing that it is clear that Milosevic is not ready for such an option. He said that he is convinced that an agreement for a peaceful solution to the problem could be reached between Prishtina and Belgrade only through international mediation.


June 22, Briefer: James P. Rubin

Answering questions on Ambassador Holbrooke going to have a meeting with Mr. Milosevic “where things stand on Kosovo and the violence”, Mr. Rubin, among others said that the U.S. continues to receive reports of scattered fighting in the Decani region. “We also understand there has been some isolated violence in the Klina region. In Northern Albania, refugees continue to trickle in with the overall number stabilizing at around 13,000.

One of the major access paths for refugees appears to be closed off…” “We support the moderate approach taken by the ethnic Albanian leadership, including their efforts to begin an effective dialogue with President Milosevic. But because of Belgrade's campaign of violence in recent weeks, this effort has been set back and prospects for a political solution have been set back.

Ambassador Holbrooke will be traveling to the region, as you indicated in your question. He will be in Skopje, Belgrade and Pristina. He will be meeting with President Milosevic in Belgrade; he will also meet with Kosovar Albanian leader, Dr. Rugova and his colleagues.

As the Secretary said yesterday, he will be making clear, in a very strong message to President Milosevic, that the Contact Group's demands are not a menu from which he can choose. He must not only follow through in a way that he has not yet followed through on the requirements to allow access for humanitarian organizations in Kosovo; but he also must pull back and canton appropriately the forces that have been involved in the violence there. That is what Ambassador Holbrooke will be saying to him in general form.


Kosovo's rebels threaten to turn tables on Serbs

AMERICA'S Balkan peacebroker was on his way to Belgrade last night as Russia told the West that a withdrawal of Serb security forces in Kosovo was senseless while ethnic Albanian guerrillas continued their attacks and would endanger the minority Serb population.

Richard Holbrooke, nominated as the American Ambassador to the United Nations, prepared to bring Washington's diplomatic muscle back into play as Russia sent foreign ministry envoys to both Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and the Albanian capital, Tirana.

Although the public positions of America and Russia appear to be at odds, there is a growing consensus among diplomats in Kosovo that Moscow is right, and that more pressure must be put on the Albanians to rein in the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Mr Holbrooke is due to meet President Milosevic of Yugoslavia later today and then tomorrow should travel to Kosovo, where he is scheduled to visit Decane, the troubled border region.

It is not clear whether he will hold talks with the Russians, whose Deputy Foreign Minister, Nikolai Afanasyevsky, yesterday said that he hoped to help to implement negotiations between Serbs and Albanians “as soon as possible”.

Fehmi Agani, senior adviser to President Rugova of Kosovo, who is an ethnic Albanian, warned Mr Afanasyevsky that Albanians would refuse to enter a new dialogue while security forces cracked down on the Kosovo guerrillas, in the process killing civilians and driving tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians from their homes. It is a message Mr Rugova is expected to repeat to Javier Solana, the Nato Secretary-General, when the two meet in Brussels today.

A problem for both the Americans and the Russians is that they now know that in talking to Mr Rugova they are not talking to the Kosovo Liberation Army. In an effort to boost his waning image, Mr Rugova is reported to have suggested that the rebels be placed under the control of all Albanian political parties, but a fax purporting to come from the guerrillas' central command yesterday rejected the idea.


Intense diplomacy over Kosovo

The senior American envoy, Richard Holbrooke, returns to Yugoslavia on Tuesday in the latest of a series of increasingly urgent diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed in Kosovo without foreign military intervention.

During a two-day trip to the Serbian province and to Belgrade, Mr Holbrooke is expected to press the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, to withdraw his armed forces from Kosovo and carry out a promise he made last week to resume talks with its ethnic Albanian majority.

Nato says time running out The Nato Secretary-General, Javier Solana, said on Monday that member states cannot avoid military intervention for much longer.

Speaking at a Nato workshop in Vienna's Hofburg palace, Mr Solana said the international community had to act rapidly to find a peaceful settlement.

The Alliance's military experts, said Mr Solana, were now looking at a wide range of options. “And no option—I repeat, no option—is being ruled out,” he added.

The German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel said ways of exerting pressure on Belgrade through sanctions had been practically exhausted.


National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday noted that three directions must be supported by all for a political solution to be found for the Kosovo crisis. He was speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the 15th NATO working meeting, focusing on the issue “Security Challenges for a New NATO.”

According to Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, activities by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) must be condemned by everyone, while pressure must be applied to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic so he will turn toward a political solution.

He also noted that the leader of the Kosovo Albanians, Ibrahim Rugova, must be supported in creating an official body to represent the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo in their quest for autonomy.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos yesterday met Albanian Prime Minsiter Fatos Nano, Austrian Defence Minister Werner Fasslabend and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, US Gen. Wesley Clark.


During the reception of the Bosnian diplomat, Mr. Ganic, Ecevit said that they discussed economic problems… adding that he hopes to get information about the developments in Kosovo.

Stressing that the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE isn’t effective in Kosovo, Ganic attributed importance to the status of Turkey concerning the stability of the region.

Noting that the dialogue should be sustained in Kosovo and the Serbians should withdraw their soldiers from the region, Ganic said “similar events take place in Sanjak…

Later the same day, Ganic visited Hikmet Cetin, the Speaker of the Parliament. Noting that he is in Turkey to give information about the developments concerning the Dayton Agreement, Ganic said, “the developments in Kosovo and Sanjak can cause unpleasant developments in the region.” Stressing that Bosnia needs international security and the provisions of the Dayton Agreement should be fully abided, Cetin said “the world should approach the Kosovo problem by taking into consideration Bosnia.”


The conscript's letter home spoke of worsening terror in Kosovo—and a desperation among some Serb forces that has begun to spread to a disquieted Yugoslav public.

“All in all, it's horrible,” the unnamed soldier wrote in a letter quoted Monday by the Belgrade independent daily Nasa Borba.

In the letter, which his mother brought to a local paper in the town of Zrenjanin, the soldier described the conflict as an undeclared war, saying there were dead Albanians every day and night, as well as the army's wounded.

“Don’t worry—if I were normal, I’d go insane,” he wrote at the end of the letter.

Reports of army desertions and police officers' refusal to serve in Kosovo are growing. And the controversial nature of the conflict has prompted parents to hold small protests that are significant in the country President Slobodan Milosevic rules with an authoritarian hand.

Milosevic has said the government will fight at all costs to hold on to the southern province, where the population is 90 per cent ethnic Albanian. But public and military discontent over Kosovo is increasing. “It's enough to read in the papers that there are many wounded and killed. Why go there and fight?” one unidentified army deserter was quoted Monday as saying in Nasa Borba.

Two other Yugoslav army soldiers—both Muslims from Montenegro—said Sunday in Albania that they fled the army because of orders to kill civilians.

“I decided to desert because I didn’t want to kill people on their doorsteps,” Fahrudin Muric told Associated Press Television in the northeastern Albanian town of Bajram Curri.

Parents of young army conscripts sent to Kosovo protested for the third time Monday in front of the army general staff headquarters building in Belgrade.

Similar protests have taken place in the towns of Nis and Kragujevac. Some parents even tried to march on two barracks in Kosovo this weekend, demanding to see their sons, but were turned back by army officers.


DECANI, The houses are rubble, the survivors are afraid to open their doors, and gunshots echo in the distance.

The Serbian forces mill around confidently while truckloads of heavily armed soldiers roll up into the hills.

Reporters on Saturday were for the first time given complete access to the western city of Decani, the site of the worst shelling in Kosovo, which sent almost all of the city's ethnic Albanians fleeing.

Serbian officials say their attack earlier this month targeted members of the independence-seeking Kosovo Liberation Army, but seems clear that shells were launched at civilian quarters.

The decision by Serbian authorities to open Decani to the press and humanitarian aid workers appears to be an attempt by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to pacify the international community, which is threatening to intervene with NATO forces.

But according to a Western diplomat in the region, it's a small concession by Mr. Milosevic, who has refused greater demands to remove his special forces from Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs 9 to 1.


Albania has renewed an appeal for intervention by countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, to prevent the Kosovo crisis from escalating.

In a speech in the Austrian city of Vienna, Albania's Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, warned that his country was on the eve of war with neighbouring Yugoslavia.

Mr Nano, a Socialist leader and head of a five-party coalition government in Tirana, said his government sought to walk a middle way between ethnic Albanians advocating armed resistance and those who favoured negotiations with Serbia.

He also acknowledged that his government had made contact with the representatives of ethnic Albanian armed resistance to Serbian rule. The Prime Minister said ethnic Albanians were organising spontaneous resistance on the ground against what he described as Serbian massacres.


About a dozen men waited in a run-down restaurant at the edge of town, reloading their assault rifles and joking nervously as mortar shells exploded outside and bullets ricocheted down the empty street. One was a young track star, another his former coach; their commander was a writer and former political prisoner.

“When it's a question of existence, you have to do it,” said Lume Hagjiu, a 40-year-old author of eight books of poetry, sweating in his heavy camouflage uniform and gripping a worn Kalashnikov. “But I hate the war.” For weeks, Serbs trying to wipe out the Kosovo Liberation Army have targeted villages along Kosovo's border with Albania, aiming to seal off the secessionist province and prevent an influx of new arms and fighters.

One of the biggest villages still controlled by the KLA along the border, Junik is fighting back with everything it's got, determined to keep its border open.

None of the men in Junik, about five miles from the border, relished the fighting Monday, which began at midafternoon and lasted about 90 minutes. But they were used to it. Serb forces positioned on the surrounding high ground have opened fire almost every day since the first attack on May 29, killing five villagers and wounding at least 10, they said.

The buildings show some of the battle scars: The roof of one house was destroyed; another house had a hole blown in the side.

“The first day was very difficult—all the families and children were here,” said Gani Shehu, another KLA commander. Serb forces hit them with guns, grenades and mortars—“everything they had.” But the town of 12,000 knew what was coming and got ready, with help from the Kosovo Liberation Army.

“We learned a lesson from Drenica,” Shehu says, referring to the site of the first Serb crackdown in March, where about 80 ethnic Albanian villagers were killed. “We picked up guns and decided to do something.”

Most of the town's women, children and elderly have fled, some to Albania, some to safer villages. A third group of about 1,000 are trapped in the hills, the commanders say, surrounded by Serbs and unable to cross the border, which was sealed last week by the Yugoslav army.

On June 15, Serb forces shot at those refugees from helicopters. It's not clear what casualties they suffered, Shehu says.

About 4,000 people remain in the village, mostly men of fighting age, all with guns. All say they’re willing to lay down their lives to defend their homes and win Kosovo's freedom from Serbia.