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Serbia denies troop buildup near Kosovo as ‘campaign of lies’

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Serbia denies troop buildup near Kosovo as ‘campaign of lies’

Serbia denied Sunday U.S. and different stories of a army buildup alongside the border with Kosovo, following final week’s shootout there that killed 4 folks.

Serbia’s president complained of a “campaign of lies” after each the United States and the European Union expressed concern earlier this week about what they mentioned was an elevated army deployment by Serbia’s border with its former province. They urged Belgrade to scale down its troop presence there.

Kosovo’s authorities mentioned Saturday it was monitoring the actions of the Serbian army from “three different directions.” It urged Serbia to instantly pull again its troops and demilitarize the border space.

“A campaign of lies … has been launched against our Serbia,” President Aleksandar Vucic responded in a video submit on Instagram. “They have lied a lot about the presence of our military forces … In fact, they are bothered that Serbia has what they describe as sophisticated weapons.”

Associated Press reporters touring within the border area Sunday noticed a number of Serbian military transport autos driving away towards central Serbia, an indication that the army may be cutting down its presence within the area following calls from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others.

Tensions have soared following the violence in northern Kosovo final Sunday involving closely armed Serb gunmen and Kosovo law enforcement officials. The conflict was one of many worst since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and prompted NATO to announce it might beef up a peacekeeping power stationed within the nation.

Serbia has denied Kosovo’s allegations that it educated the group of some 30 males who opened fireplace on law enforcement officials, leaving one useless, after which barricaded themselves in an Orthodox Christian monastery in northern Kosovo. Three insurgents died within the hourslong shootout that ensued.

Kosovo has additionally mentioned it was investigating doable Russian involvement within the violence. Serbia is Russia’s important ally in Europe, and there are fears within the West that Moscow may attempt to stir bother within the Balkans to avert consideration from the warfare in Ukraine.

John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, mentioned Friday that U.S. officers have been monitoring a big deployment of Serbian troops alongside the border with Kosovo, describing it as an “unprecedented staging of advanced Serbian artillery, tanks and mechanized infantry units.”

Vucic has a number of instances over the previous months raised the fight readiness degree of Serbian troops on the border with Kosovo. Serbia additionally has been reinforcing its troops with weapons and different gear primarily bought from Russia and China.

“We will continue to invest in the defense of our country but Serbia wants peace,” the president mentioned Sunday. “Everything they said they made up and lied, and they knew they were making up and lying.”

Last weekend’s shootout close to the village of Banjska adopted months of tensions in Kosovo’s north, the place ethnic Serbs are a majority of the inhabitants and have demanded self-rule. Dozens of troopers from the NATO-led peacekeeping power generally known as KFOR have been injured in May in a conflict with ethnic Serbs protesting the Kosovo police presence within the space.

Fearing wider instability because the warfare rages in Ukraine, Washington and Brussels have sought to barter a normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, however the two sides have didn’t implement a tentative settlement that was not too long ago reached as a part of an EU-mediated dialogue.

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