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World - Europe

Wave of Yugoslav troops, trucks leave Kosovo

troops
NATO troops in Camp Able Sentry, Macedonia on Friday, top, and a convoy of US trucks on their way to Kosovo on Thursday  
 MILITARY PLAN:
Timetable for Kosovo transition

Map: Serb troop withdrawal

Map: Proposed NATO troop sectors
related videoRELATED VIDEO
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic addressed the country after the peace deal was announced. CNN's Walter Rodgers reports. (June 10)
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At the Yugoslavian-Albanian border Thursday morning, CNN's Mike Boettcher still hears gunfire in Kosovo (June 10)
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 ALSO:
Russia says relations with NATO 'frozen'

U.S. won't help reconstruct Yugoslavia until Milosevic out of power, Clinton says

Winners and losers: Analysis of the Kosovo conflict

Milosevic proclaims victory with end to Kosovo conflict

NATO, aid agencies gear up for Kosovo refugees' return

Timetable for Kosovo transition

Text of Kosovo military technical agreement
 THE DELUGE OF REFUGEES:
Number, whereabouts of Kosovo refugees
 MESSAGE BOARD:
Crisis in Kosovo
 IN-DEPTH SPECIAL:
Focus on Kosovo

June 11, 1999
Web posted at: 5:13 a.m. EDT (0913 GMT)


In this story:

Deployment to begin Saturday

U.N. Security Council approves NATO plan

Clinton, Milosevic each claim victory

Agreement followed diplomatic marathon

KLA plans to lay down arms

Russia ties with NATO suspended

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- A military exodus of Yugoslav trucks, troops and civilians streamed north out of Kosovo, while NATO troops prepared to enter the war-torn province on Saturday.

The convoy moving into the main part of Serbia included Yugoslav armored vehicles and mobile anti-aircraft weapons. Private cars full of Serbs followed. The Serbs fear reprisals by Kosovar Albanians, hundreds of thousands of whom are expected to return over the next three months.

An estimated 40,000 armed Serbian troops or special forces in Kosovo are scheduled to withdraw from the province. They have 11 days to leave, according to a NATO-backed peace deal approved by the United Nations Security Council on Thursday.

Deployment to begin Saturday

NATO troops are poised to enter Kosovo to verify and enforce compliance with the peace agreement, and assist refugees as they return.

The commander of NATO's peacekeepers, British Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson, declined to discuss a timetable, but other officials said the troops would begin moving in Kosovo on Saturday, 24 hours after originally planned.

Early Friday, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said the troop deployment was moving ahead on schedule.

U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen in Washington, asked if the peacekeeper entry was delayed because U.S. troops were not in position, said "absolutely not."

NATO officials said British and French troops would initially move into the southernmost Serbian province, followed quickly by U.S. Marines and soldiers.

About 18,000 NATO troops had been waiting just outside Yugoslav territories for orders to enter the region. The Kosovo force will eventually grow to some 50,000 troops.

Advance teams of NATO troops plan to enter Kosovo on Friday, alliance officials said. The scout units plan to check roads, bridges and tunnels for damage or booby traps before the main forces arrive on Saturday, according to NATO.

NATO officials said the main units of British and French troops would initially move into the southernmost Serbian province, followed quickly by U.S. Marines and soldiers.

U.N. Security Council approves NATO plan

Alliance ambassadors issued the final activation order for the Kosovo force on Thursday, soon after the U.N. Security Council gave its backing to the peace plan.

NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana earlier announced to the United Nations that the alliance had suspended its air campaign.

Speaking to the council before the vote, Yugoslav U.N. Charge D'Affairs Vladislav Jovanovic said his country was the victim of "brutal aggression" by the United States and NATO, who he said targeted civilian targets in their bombing campaign in violation of international law.

Shen Guofang, China's deputy U.N. ambassador, said his country would not use its veto to block the peace plan approved by the Group of Eight nations and Yugoslavia.

China has bitterly criticized NATO's attacks, particularly after a NATO bomb destroyed its embassy in Belgrade, killing three of its citizens. Shen said the war has been a political disaster for the alliance.

"It shows that in the future any use of force should get the authorization of the Security Council," he said.

Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov concurred, adding that he hoped the vote would deter NATO from acting on its own in the future.

"I hope this is a change not only on this, but on other issues as well," Lavrov said.

The council approved the resolution 14-0 with China abstaining.

Clinton, Milosevic each claim victory

In Washington, U.S. President Bill Clinton said NATO had "achieved victory for a safer world" in Kosovo. He warned Serbs that the United States will not help them rebuild from the bombing "as long as your nation is ruled by an indicted war criminal."

Clinton added: "But we are ready to provide humanitarian aid now and to help to build a better future for Serbia, too, when its government represents tolerance and freedom, not repression and terror."

In Belgrade, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic declared a sort of victory: He said Yugoslavia had preserved its existing borders in the face of massive aerial bombardment.

"The territorial integrity of our country can never be questioned again," he said. "We survived and defended the country and raised the entire problem to the pinnacle of world authority -- the pyramid -- the United Nations."

Milosevic said the question of independence for Kosovo -- which prompted more than a year of ethnic strife in the Serbian province -- was no longer an issue.

The leader said the Yugoslav army and special police forces in Kosovo lost fewer than 600 men during the fighting. That number is about a tenth of the estimates that NATO released last week.

"We demonstrated our army cannot be defeated," he said.

The alliance lost two fliers during the war -- both U.S. Army helicopter pilots who died on a training mission in Albania when their helicopter crashed.

Agreement followed diplomatic marathon

The cease-fire agreement outlines a strict timetable that Yugoslavia must follow. Yugoslav and NATO generals on Wednesday agreed to details of the troop withdrawal from Kosovo, following marathon talks along the Yugoslav- Macedonian border.

Under the terms of the agreement, the withdrawal must be complete by June 21.

The war began after Yugoslavia rejected a peace agreement for Kosovo similar to one it accepted last week. The accords were aimed at ending a year of ethnic conflict in the mostly ethnic-Albanian province of Yugoslavia's dominant republic of Serbia.

Solana warned that NATO could resume its bombardment if Yugoslavia reneged on its agreement to withdraw. And he added that separatist rebels of the Kosovo Liberation Army must also stand down during the withdrawal.

"Violence or noncompliance by any party will not be tolerated," he said.

KLA plans to lay down arms

KLA leader Hassim Thaci said on Thursday that the rebel force would become demilitarized under the terms of the Kosovo agreements. The KLA will develop a political organization, he said.

Thaci said the KLA will "not attack Serbian troops that are withdrawing, but we reserve the right to defend ourselves."

Kosovar refugees on the Albanian border welcomed the news of peace, but their enthusiasm was tempered by the shock of the past, and anxiety over the future.

The refugees tuned the radio to news of the dead and missing.

"I just don't believe that the Serbs will pull out," said one man.

Another bitterly said, "I don't want to see a single Serb alive. They killed four of my family."

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Kris Janowski expects a total of 400,000 Kosovar refugees to return to the province within the next three months.

NATO repeatedly accused Yugoslavia of unleashing the army on ethnic Albanian civilians once the air war began. The reports of atrocities in Kosovo led to Milosevic's indictment by a U.N. war crimes tribunal.

Russia ties with NATO suspended

On Friday President Boris Yeltsin said Russia's ties with NATO remained "frozen" despite the end of the bombing, according to Russian news agencies.

Moscow suspended relations with NATO after the alliance began airstrikes in late March. Also Friday, talks continued in Moscow on Russia's tole in KFOR, the peacekeeping force.

On Thursday, Russia's Duma, the lower house of parliament, asked Yeltsin to fire Viktor Chernomyrdin, Yeltsin's special envoy on the Balkans. The vote has no legal force, but reflects anger toward Chernomyrdin from communists and others on the political left, who accuse him of selling out to NATO.

Chernomyrdin and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott tried to resolve the issue of peacekeeping forces in Yugoslavia. Talbott said it would not be possible for Russia to have a separate sector in Kosovo when peacekeeping forces move in.

Correspondents Jim Clancy, Walter Rodgers, Steve Harrigan, Patricia Kelly, Richard Roth,Chris Burns and Reporter Bill Neely contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Russia says relations with NATO 'frozen'
June 11, 1999
NATO set to enter Kosovo on Saturday
June 10, 1999
U.S. won't help reconstruct Yugoslavia until Milosevic out of power, Clinton says
June 10, 1999
Winners and losers: Analysis of the Kosovo conflict
June 10, 1999
Russians push for separate sector in Kosovo peace force
June 10, 1999
Milosevic proclaims victory with end to Kosovo conflict
June 10, 1999
NATO, aid agencies gear up for Kosovo refugees' return
June 10, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Yugoslavia:
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis


Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

Relief:
  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International
  • UNHCR


Media:
  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

Other:
  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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