The authorities of the unrecognized Kosovo put their troops on full combat readiness preparing for an operation on dismantling barricades in northern Kosovo and Metohija, Serbia’s Vecernje Novosti daily reported on Monday citing sources close to a NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR).
According to the newspaper, about 1,500 servicemen received orders to remain at their deployment sites or within reach in anticipation of a possible relocation at night.
On December 25, the ambassadors of the Quinta countries (the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy) demanded from the Serbian president to remove the barricades within 24 hours, threatening that otherwise they would not hinder attempts by Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti to resolve the situation on his own. Kurti stressed that the dismantling of the barricades in northern Kosovo may involve casualties and should be completed as soon as possible.
The situation in Kosovo escalated abruptly on December 6, when Kosovo special forces accompanied by EU mission patrols started capturing electoral commission buildings in the northern parts of the region. The Serbian population organized itself and repelled the Kosovars, pushing them past the River Ibar. On December 8, some 350 Kosovan policemen invaded the Serb-populated northern part of the region using armored vehicles and blocked the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica.
On December 10, the Kosovan police arrested Deyan Pantic, a Serb and former policeman, under contrived charges. In response, the Serbian population started mass protests and barricaded highways in several settlements.