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Serbia lowers troop alert level amid Kosovo standoff – media – RT World News

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It comes after Serbs in the separatist region began dismantling roadblocks to defuse tensions with local security forces.

Serbia has lifted the state of full combat readiness of its armed forces following moves to defuse tensions between Belgrade and its breakaway region of Kosovo, the Tanjug news agency reported on Thursday, citing the president’s office. Aleksandar Vuccic. The president had put the country’s army and police on hold on December 26.

Kosovo is predominantly populated by ethnic Albanians, but has a Serb majority in its northern regions. Local Serbs set up roadblocks this month after the arrest of former policeman Dejan Pantic, accused by Kosovo authorities of attacking the offices of the municipal electoral commission. The barricades prompted a confrontation with heavily armed police, many of them ethnic Albanians, who were deployed to Serb communities. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti demanded the removal of the barricades and urged local Serbs to clear the roads.

On Wednesday, a Kosovo court agreed to change Pantic’s detention to house arrest. Vucic, meanwhile, called on the Kosovo Serbs to dismantle the roadblocks, which they began doing on Thursday. The Serbian leader said he had received written guarantees from the EU and the United States that Kosovo authorities would not arrest peaceful protesters or deploy security forces in Serb-majority areas.

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Serbia withdrew its troops from Kosovo in 1999 after NATO intervened to support local Albanian armed separatists, bombing Belgrade and other cities. NATO peacekeepers have since been deployed to the region, which eventually declared independence and sought recognition from Belgrade in 2008. With support from Russia and China, Serbia resisted US and European pressure in this sense.

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