Tuesday, April 13, 1999 Published at 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
More British troops for Balkans
The British presence in the Balkans is to be bolstered
More UK troops are to be sent to the Balkans as Nato increases its military build-up over the Kosovo conflict.
Details of the deployment are to be announced by Prime Minister Tony Blair in a Commons statement at 1530BST.
The additional troops will join the 4,000 already in the region. They are stationed in Macedonia and are equipped with 14 Challenger main battle tanks, 40 Warrior armoured fighting vehicles and six AS 90 self-propelled guns.
The news came as Serb radio reported that an RAF Harrier had been shot down over Bosnia and its pilot killed. The Ministry of Defence has categorically denied the report.
The Harriers have been bombing Serbian communication networks, striking at two radio relay stations in Kosovo and Serbia as well as attacking fuel depots.
At the daily Ministry of Defence briefing, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook confirmed the deployment of more troops.
Sir Charles Guthrie, Chief of Defence Staff, said that although the Nato force (Kfor) would pack a "significant military punch" it was not intended as a fighting or invasion force.
"We learned the lesson from Bosnia that a peace implementation force has to be both credible and capable of defending the peace. Kfor is designed for this purpose," he said at the MoD briefing.
He said the stepped-up bombing was a sign to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that Nato's resolve was strong.
Rejection of fascism
Mr Cook said: ''If President Milosevic had hoped the Alliance would grow weary of the struggle or show a split in its members he must be a very disappointed man this morning.
''The firm foundation for that Alliance unity is our common belief that the arrival of fascism that we have witnessed in Kosovo must have no place in modern Europe.
''Nato was born in the aftermath of the defeat of fascism and genocide in Europe. Nato will not allow this century to end with a triumph for fascism and genocide.''
The foreign secretary said Nato had seen "fresh evidence of brutal atrocities" carried out by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo. There were also reports, he said, of ethnic Albanian women being "systematically" raped in an Yugoslav army camp at the town of Djakovica in southern Kosovo.
Mr Blair will update MPs on the Nato offensive following calls for an emergency Commons recall during the Easter break to debate the bombing campaign.
He can expect tough questioning from those who will query the length of the campaign and growing reports of civilian casualties.
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Leader Paddy Ashdown has told BBC News Online that Nato should start air drops to refugees hiding in Kosovo's mountain forests.
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