Turkish forces arrive in Kosovo to bolster NATO-led peacekeepers after recent violence

AP , Monday 5 Jun 2023

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

NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) soldiers, wearing full riot gear, stand behind a barbed wire perimeter around the municipal building in Zvecan, northern Kosovo, following clashes with Serb protesters demanding the removal of recently elected Albanian Mayors on June 2, 2023. AFP


The Turkish Defense Ministry shared a video Sunday showing troops wearing the insignia of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force departing Turkey and arriving in Kosovo.

Violent clashes with ethnic Serbs last Monday 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. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with ministry regulations. (Moving this up - I think most people, myself included, would have only the vaguest idea of the size of a commando battalion beyond “a very large number”.)

“The first convoy of the commando battalion attached to the 65th Mechanized Infantry Brigade Command (Luleburgaz) has completed its transit to Kosovo,” the tweet on the official account read.

NATO announced last Tuesday 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 Turkey.

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

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