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Turkish Defense Ministry sending special forces to Kosovo at NATO’s request

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The Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Saturday that it would deploy special forces to Kosovo as part of a peacekeeping mission, following a request from NATO.

Turkey will be sending a commando battalion from its 65th mechanized infantry brigade on Sunday and Monday, in response to a call from NATO’s joint command force in Naples.

The Turkish commandos will be joining NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) to help address the ongoing unrest in the northern region of the Balkan country.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia 15 years ago. However, Serbia, Russia, China and five EU countries, including Spain and Greece, do not recognize Kosovo’s statehood. The majority of Kosovo’s population, over 90 percent, consists of ethnic Albanians, with more than 90 percent of the population identifying as Muslims.

The current unrest in Kosovo stems from the April boycott of local elections by Kosovo Serbs. As a result, ethnic Albanians assumed control of local councils in the predominantly Serb-populated north of Kosovo. The entry of Albanian representatives into public buildings in the region led to assaults by militants with Belgrade support, identified by their “Z” insignia, reminiscent of Russia’s symbol in the Ukrainian conflict.

The recent violence, which occurred over the past weekend and Monday, resulted in clashes between police, NATO forces and masked individuals wielding metal pipes. NATO strongly condemned the attacks on its forces, deeming it “totally unacceptable” and resulting in at least 30 soldiers being injured. In response, NATO announced the deployment of additional troops to Kosovo, in addition to the 700 already en route, to reinforce the existing 4,000-strong mission. Turkish troops will contribute to the increased presence.

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