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Sunday, June 20, 1999 Published at 05:44 GMT 06:44 UK


World: Europe

Last Serb troops leaving Kosovo

Before the pullout there were some 40,000 Serb forces in Kosovo

Almost all Yugoslav security forces have pulled out of Kosovo, according to the international peacekeeping force in the province.

Kosovo: Special Report
K-For say they expect the withdrawal to be complete by midday on Sunday - well ahead of the deadline of midnight.

Serb civilians are continuing to flee Kosovo with the retreating Yugoslav troops, and their houses are being burnt to the ground in apparent acts of vengeance.


The BBC's Jeremy Cooke: "Withdrawal has gone more smoothly than Nato dared hope"
Some 3,000 to 5,000 Serb forces remained in the north of the province on Saturday night, but there were not thought to be any formal brigades or units left, K-For said.

Originally there were some 40,000 Yugoslav security forces deployed in Kosovo, and full withdrawal was one of Nato's chief demands.

(Click here to see a map showing timetable of Serb withdrawal and Nato's planned movements)

Peacekeepers have been moving into some areas of Kosovo before the Serbs withdraw, anxious to prevent any kind of security vacuum from developing.

The challenges facing them include disarming the KLA, stopping the exodus of Serb civlians, and making the province safe enough for the refugees to return.


The BBC's Clive Myrie: "The war may be over, but Kosovo continues to burn"
There have already been reports of reprisals from Kosovo Albanians, and Serb homes have been set on fire.

A BBC correspondent who visited the town of Prizren saw plumes of dark grey smoke from hundreds of fires rising over the countryside.

Local people said they believed the fires were started by Kosovo Albanians, an accusation supported by a unit commander from the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Other accounts say the Serbs are also starting fires to prevent Kosovo Albanians from living in their homes after they leave.

Serb civilians follow military

Despite pleas from K-For and Yugoslav leaders for them to stay, up to 50,000 Serb civilians have left since Kosovo Albanian refugees began returning over the weekend.


[ image: Serbs say they do not trust K-For]
Serbs say they do not trust K-For
A Serb opposition leader, Goran Svilanovic of the Civil Alliance, said that if the full extent of the exodus became known in Serbia, President Milosevic could not survive in power.

As the Serbs leave, there have been numerous incidents of looting reported, including at an abandoned 16th century monastery in Musutiste.

Many Serbs say they cannot trust K-For peacekeeping troops to protect them, and fear the KLA will not hand over its weapons.

Reshaping the KLA


Pristina KLA leader Lirak Celaj: "It will be a police of Kosovo not just of Albanians"
A spokesman for K-For, Brigadier Bill Rollo, says an agreement is close on a new role for the KLA.

They have agreed in principle to a 90-day demilitarisation programme, and not to wear uniforms or carry weapons in public.

The rebel army says it wants to be transformed into a national guard organisation, and to contribute to a new police force made up of both Kosovo Serbs and Albanians.

New dispute with Russia

Russian President Boris Yeltsin has arrived for the G8 summit in Cologne, where aid to Kosovo is expected to be one of the main areas of discussion.

The US has reiterated the Nato view that Yugoslavia should receive no international financial aid as long as its leader has been indicted for war crimes.

Russia had argued that Yugoslavia should not be excluded from economic aid, even if President Milosevic remains in power.

On his arrival in Cologne, President Yeltsin said it was his intention to make friends with Nato again, following their differences over the bombing canmpaign in Kosovo.

The main dispute between Russia and Nato over Russia's role in the peacekeeping effort has been cleared up, with an agreement that 3,500 Russian troops will be spread across three sectors of the province in the areas under American, German and French control.



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