Belgrade claims to have reduced its troops in the area by half, after having carried out a large deployment after the shootout between insurgents and Kosovo police.
The United States welcomes Serbia’s announcement to withdraw from the Kosovo border, although it acknowledges that it has not yet been able to verify troop movements.
Washington had already warned Belgrade of the need for a withdrawal that the US State Department spokesman, Matthew Millerhe was in charge of announcing.
“We have seen reports that Serbia has withdrawn military personnel and equipment away from the border. We have not yet independently verified this, and we will look for more confirmations. But if it’s true, it would be a welcome step, something we asked to happen last week and we would be glad they took that step,” Miller told reporters.
Specifically, the Serbian Army has reduced the number of troops stationed on the border with Kosovo by almost half, following the shooting a week ago in which four people died —a Kosovo police officer and three insurgents—and which raised fears of increased instability in the region.
Armed by the Army?
Right now, the number of troops is about 4,500 soldiers, compared to the 8,350 that had been deployed after the shootout between heavily armed Serbs and the Kosovo Police. This was stated at least by the Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Army, Milan Mojsilovic.
“On September 25, 8,350 was the numerical size of enlisted members, not only to secure the administrative line in the ground security zone, but also in the components of the units that are located and deployed near the administrative line.”
Belgrade also denies Kosovar reports that The Serbian Army would have trained and armed the group of insurgents involved in the shooting. NATO, which announced last week its intention to reinforce its presence in the area, has not yet commented on the withdrawal of the Serbian Army from the border.