Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Sunday, June 6, 1999 Published at 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK


Extra British troops arrive in Balkans

Thousands more troops will soon arrive in Macedonia

The first of the extra British troops being sent to Macedonia en route to Kosovo have arrived in the Balkans.

Kosovo: Special Report
Nearly 2,000 paratroops flew to the Macedonian capital, Skopje, from RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire on Saturday night, to become part of Nato's peacekeeping force.

Early on Saturday, 200 men from the First Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

They were being followed by a further 800 paratroopers leaving the base during Sunday, and a further 1,000 troops - including Gurkhas and troops from the Royal Irish Regiment - who will fly out on Monday.

The BBC's David Bottomley: A firm commitment to use force if necessary
On Monday, the number of daily flights of British troops to Skopje will be stepped up from 10 to 20.

The troops will be part of a 13,000 strong British force which will be poised to enter Kosovo by next weekend, including 5,500 British soldiers who were already in place as part of Nato's ACE Rapid Reaction Corps.

British Army spokesman Gordon Skilling: "They will be there as long as it takes"
Around 11,000 troops will be ready at Macedonia's border with Kosovo by Thursday, and a total of 13,000 by next Sunday.

It means the number of British troops in the region will have more than doubled over the next week.

[ image: Warm welcome for soliders]
Warm welcome for soliders
Paratroopers waiting to leave RAF Brize Norton said that morale among the men was good, and that they were eager to begin operations.

Corporal Mick Rayner from Harrogate, Yorkshire, said: "We just want to get out there and see what's going on for ourselves.

"We may be out there for six months and obviously the guys are going to miss their families, but it's part of the job and probably the hardest part of the job.

"I'm leaving my wife and six-year-old daughter. It's difficult for them as well, but they're getting used to it."

Lieutenant Sean Phillips, from Leicester, said: "This is the paras' first foreign operational tour other than Northern Ireland since the Falklands.

Prepared to postpone wedding

"We've trained hard and we're ready to go. Our role may well be changing from a potentially aggressive one to more of a passive role, but the men are eager to see for themselves the extent of the problems out there.

"I know it's difficult for those with families but we've been waiting a long time for a tour."

Lance Corporal Jonothan Edwards, from Llanelli, South Wales, said he expected that he would miss his own wedding, scheduled for September.

"I don't know how the fiancée's feeling about it," he said.

"We don't really know how long we're going to be away, but we're both realistic and prepared to postpone the date.

"It's difficult for us both but it's something you learn to expect."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

05 Jun 99 | Europe
Withdrawal talks start

05 Jun 99 | UK
General with a tough reputation

05 Jun 99 | UK Politics
UK troops set for Balkans

04 Jun 99 | UK
Can British forces take the strain?

04 Jun 99 | Europe
Backlash fears for Milosevic

04 Jun 99 | Europe
Kosovo peace plan agreed

03 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Blair's cautious welcome for deal

Internet Links


Serbian Ministry of Information

Kosovo Crisis Centre

British Army


International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online