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Pastimes : Kosovo

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To: John Lacelle who wrote (17440)3/14/2001 10:36:26 PM
From: George Papadopoulos  Read Replies (2) of 17770
John, your body bags are coming....if Stratfor is right and they tell us about them<g>

KFOR and Serb forces will be subject to regular hit-and-run attacks by UCPMB bands, and they will suffer numerous casualties through the spring.

Dangerous Ground: Inside the Buffer
14 March 2001


The Yugoslav army entered the ground safety zone along the Kosovo border March
14. Serb forces were deployed into areas near where ethnic Albanian militants
control strategically important villages. But ethnic Albanians are fighting to keep
those villages from Serb control and ultimately will attack KFOR and Serb patrols
in defense of the region. KFOR can expect the number of guerrilla forces to grow
along the border and for its forces, and those of the Serbs, to be under the
constant threat of ambush.


With ethnic Albanian militants fighting for control of key villages inside a 3-mile
ground safety zone established by NATO, the Yugoslav army entered the area
March 14 in order to stem the incursion of the Liberation Army of Presevo,
Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB).

But the guerrillas will target the Serb patrols entering the ground safety zone, as
well as U.S. KFOR units, in order to defend the strategically important villages and
continue the fight for Kosovo’s independence. Moreover, Albanian militants will
recruit heavily for the fight and keep with hit-and-run attacks against multinational
forces in the Presevo Valley.

In an attempt to stabilize the region, KFOR will be forced to consider a build up of
multinational forces along the border to suppress Albanian extremists. But as a
result, KFOR, U.N. monitors and Serb forces will come under regular attacks by
small bands of Albanians who will migrate over territory in Serbia’s Presevo Valley.
Only a major buildup by KFOR’s forces along the border would stem the violence,
and even that is an uncertain proposition.

KFOR’s biggest challenge will be sealing the border from arms traffic and new
UCPMB recruits. Until KFOR can interdict all guerrilla personnel and equipment,
the militants will own the Presevo Valley.

U.S.-KFOR forces, part of what is known as Multinational Brigade East, are
responsible for three zones along Kosovo’s border with Macedonia and Serbia. The
area has become the center of gravity for a potential border war.

The Albanian extremists seek armed control of predominantly Albanian
communities in Serbia’s territory. Albanian paramilitary leaders claim NATO
betrayed them by refusing to declare Kosovo independent and by aligning with new
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica.

While Serb forces are not allowed near areas under Albanian control, U.S.-KFOR
forces – with notable assistance from British, Scandinavian, Polish, Russian and
Ukrainian forces – are attempting to clean up towns occupied by the militants.

KFOR efforts to contain the Presevo Valley will resemble the cleanup missions by
Russian paratroopers at the end of the1999 incursion by Islamic militants in

These are preventive operations in towns under the risk of rebel occupation.
Keeping these towns from rebel control will require a steady KFOR presence
through the spring and winter.

Other towns inside the ground safety zone are currently under guerrilla control.
These include Dobrosin, Konculj, Lucane, Bujanovac and Veliki Trnovac – all
inside Serbia proper. There are as many as 4000 militants already inside the
ground safety zone between Kosovo and Serbia and there are about 300 militants
inside Macedonia, concentrated southwest of Serbia's Presevo Valley near

NATO will allow only small teams of KFOR liaisons into the ground safety zone
and will help coordinate operations with Serb forces in the Presevo Valley.
Monitors from the European Union and United Nations will be in place to oversee
the actions of Serb forces. KFOR’s objective in the Presevo Valley is to contain
the militants in their strongholds and to rout them from towns under partial control.

NATO’s mission in the Presevo Valley is risky. Guerrillas have launched mortars
inside the ground safety zone from Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo, and they
regularly engage Serb police. Ethnic Albanian strongholds cannot be overwhelmed
by force, as Serb forces cannot bring anti-tank weapons, artillery or tanks into the
ground safety zone. The matter is such a concern for Yugoslav officials that Serb
Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic and President Kostunica fear NATO has put
Serb forces in harm’s way.

Moreover, there is a strong likelihood multinational forces will be encircled in their
effort to contain the militants.

The UCPMB is expanding its base of influence inside Kosovo, likely following the
refugee traffic. Substantial refugee flows have gone eastward into Kosovo from the
Presevo Valley.

In December 2000, the UNHCR regional office reported 4,900 internally displaced
people sought refuge in Kosovo from the Presevo Valley. Most registered in towns
surrounding Gnjilane and Kamenica, a few miles inside the border across
Dobrosin, the guerilla stronghold. Also, almost 100 people fled to Kosovo for every
person fleeing to Serbia.

Given the freedom of movement within the buffer zone and the flight of most
persons to Kosovo, UCPMB forces are likely to build up forces in the key towns
inside Kosovo. These include Malisevo, Zegra, Toponica and Karacevo, and also
Breznica inside Serbia.

At present, guerilla forces are diffused throughout the region, and KFOR and Serb
forces effectively will become ducks in the barrel while on patrol.

UCPMB forces have confronted police at key transport routes into Serbia from
Kosovo, including Malina Malla, Blace, Mucibaba and Brevnik. These were
probably attempts to monitor traffic at crossing points. Despite calls by ethnic
Albanian moderates, UCPMB field colonels are bracing for war. Their targets will
be KFOR and Serbian personnel patrolling inside the ground safety zone and
outside along the border.

UCPMB will attempt to hold at key points along the border and will use the
mountains as cover. Much like Russia’s problems in Dagestan, KFOR will face a
mobile enemy and will remain unable to isolate the guerilla bands. KFOR and Serb
forces will be subject to regular hit-and-run attacks by UCPMB bands, and they
will suffer numerous casualties through the spring.
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