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Monday, August 17, 1998 Published at 22:07 GMT 23:07 UK

World: Europe

Nato 'warning' over Kosovo

British paratroopers land near the Nato camp in Bize

Troops from 14 Nato countries have been taking part in military exercises in Albania aimed at sending a message to the warring sides in neighbouring Kosovo.

BBC Defence Correspondent Mark Laity: "Aim to enhance security"
Albanian warplanes have joined 50 Nato aircraft and more than 1,700 troops for the week-long exercise, which includes practising rescue operations and air strikes.

The manoeuvres were arranged to bolster stability in the Balkans and to send a warning to Serbia about Nato's concern at the conflict in the Serbian province of Kosovo.

[ image: During the week-long exercises Nato practices rescue operations and air strikes]
During the week-long exercises Nato practices rescue operations and air strikes
Admiral Joseph Lopez, Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe, said: "Belgrade and any belligerents throughout the region would get the same message - Nato is ready.

"We are using the lessons learnt from Bosnia. Should we have to react in any way, in peace support operations or any other way, we will be ready."

But BBC Defence Correspondent in Albania, Mark Laity, says Nato's failure to intervene when Serb forces attacked civilian targets in Kosovo has blunted the impact of the exercises.

Serb successes

Operations, including air combat and evacuations, will be concentrated around the Albanian capital, Tirana.

[ image: Serb forces take Junik]
Serb forces take Junik
The exercise is being staged as the fighting in Kosovo, a Serbian province with a mainly Albanian population, reaches a crucial stage.

Serbian forces have taken control of the last major Kosovo Liberation Army stronghold in the province.

Western journalists who visited the village of Junik, near the border with Albania, said all the civilian population had fled, and many buildings were damaged.

A BBC correspondent in Kosovo, Jeremy Cooke, says the fall of Junik is a major blow to the KLA, which has been pushed back from territory it controlled in recent weeks.

Some reports say the KLA are re-grouping in Glodjani, a village which fell to the Serbs but where KLA troops are once again moving freely.

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