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– Lisa Beyer
Bloomberg News
August 27, 2018
KLA Disarming Slowly and Reluctantly

The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an estimated 17,000 ethnic Albanians who fought to separate Kosovo from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia, is on pace to meet its September 19 disarmament deadline according to KFOR, the international security force in the war-torn province. KFOR, however, has stepped up its search and seizure operations, while Russia, a KFOR member with pro-Serbian sympathies, charged on August 18 that the process is "proceeding very slowly."

General Michael Jackson, commander of KFOR, said August 23 that the KLA had met the second of three benchmarks on August 20, by which all of its heavy weapons and 60 percent of its small arms were to be handed over to registered storage sites. By September 19, all KLA small arms, except pistols, shotguns and hunting rifles, are to be turned over and the wearing of KLA uniforms and insignia will be proscribed as the separatist group is officially disbanded.

KFOR's measure of KLA compliance is somewhat suspect given that its original weapons holdings are not known. Though "encouraged by the results," a KFOR spokesperson, who declined to release total numbers of weapons turned over, said that KFOR is "still not satisfied with the number of weapons in circulation and continued acts of violence." With the international security presence now numbering over 40,000, KFOR is taking a more active role in disarming the province, according to the spokesperson. Though pistols, shotguns and hunting rifles are not proscribed, KFOR is confiscating the weapons if they are carried in public.