K. Serbs dub KFOR drill "provocation"

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- KFOR's multinational troops have started a two-day regular military exercise in the north of Kosovo.

According to a statement from the NATO-led force earlier this week, “Strong Gates" will be carried out in cooperation with EULEX and the Kosovo police, KPS, with the main goals of being joint training of KFOR Tactical North and Operative Reserve troops.

"The troops will get familiar with the terrain and all defense procedures at border crossings of Brnjak and Jarinje," said the statement.

The two administrative line checkpoints are located near Leposavić and Zubin Potok in the Serb-dominated north of the province.

One of the goals of the two-day exercise is to establish cooperation among KFOR, EULEX and the KPS, the statement concluded.

The preoccupation shown by KFOR and EULEX with the checkpoints has led some Serb organization to interpret the drill as a provocation aimed at them, and Belgrade.

The Serb National Council said that goal of the exercise is for KFOR and EULEX "to show that Serbia has definitively lost Kosovo and that a NATO state had been formed on Serbian soil".

The council also believes that it was the wrong policies coming out of the government in Belgrade that "spurred the west to further separate Kosovo from Serbia".

The council also said that the western forces will have to face the fact that it was through their fault that 250,000 Kosovo Serbs were driven out of their homes, but that, it was stressed, "they will return sooner or later".