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Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK


World: Europe

KLA appoints new leader

The KLA has appointed an experienced military planner

By BBC Balkans reporter Nigel Margerison

The Kosovo Liberation Army has confirmed it has appointed a former Brigadier General in the Croatian army, Agim Ceku as its new leader.

Kosovo: Special Report
Mr Ceku is a Kosovo Albanian with a wealth of military experience both fighting with and against the Serbs.

He replaces Sylejman Selimi, a political appointee who had no formal military training and has been criticised following recent major setbacks for the KLA.

Mr Ceku graduated from the Belgrade military academy and served in the Yugoslav army as an artillery captain.

In 1991 he defected to the newly-formed Croatian army and was decorated nine times.

Key planner


[ image: Analysts say new KLA recruits are still no match for the well-armed Serbs]
Analysts say new KLA recruits are still no match for the well-armed Serbs
He took part in several battles against Serb forces in Bosnia and Croatia and in 1995 was one of the key planners behind Operation Storm in which the Croats drove the Serbs out of the Krajina region of eastern Croatia. He left the Croatian army in February this year.

The new leader is faced with a daunting task.

According to the well respected military journal, Jane's Defence Weekly, claims by the Serbs that they have defeated the KLA are closer to the truth than KLA counter statements that it is the Serbs who are in disarray.

The weekly says the KLA has only about 4,000 fighters still left in Kosovo penned into three small areas. Most of its force of 20,000 have fled to Albania.

Although it has enthusiastic new volunteers joining every day, most are raw recruits, and military analysts say they are no match for the well-equipped Serb forces.



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