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Published on Jul 21, 2015


Heavy fighting resumed on Sunday between Yugoslav government forces and Kosovo separatists around the central Kosovo town of Orahovac.

The town, which is about 50 kilometres southwest of Pristina, was the target of a guerrilla offensive the day before.

The offensive by the ethnic Albanian guerillas was an attempt to expand the 40 percent of Kosovo territory currently held by the Kosovo Liberation Army (K-L-A).

The K-L-A's advance towards Orahovac provoked a counter attack by Serb forces which used a tank and at least one helicopter in an attempt to re-gain control of the town.

While much of Orahovac burned many of the town's 30 thousand inhabitants fled in tractors and horse-drawn carts.

According to ethnic Albanians who make up the Kosovo Liberation Army, the fighting has drawn in the villages of Bela Crkva and Drenoc, .

Both sides say they now control most of Orahovac which has become one of the largest battles in the five month old conflict.

Many of these guerillas have recently joined the K-L-A.

This soldier, 18 year old Sead used to be a hairdresser and had planned to go to Atlanta in the United States to study - instead he decided to stay and fight.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"We are fighting for our rights, for our motherland, we don't want to leave this place because of our grandfathers and this place is ours. We are fighting for our families."
SUPER CAPTION: Sead, KLA soldier

The ethnic Albanian guerrilla commander of these men said he was using cannons, rocket launchers, vehicle-mounted machine guns and other heavy weapons to fight the Serbian siege.

He said he also deployed Stinger missiles in the hills to prepare for any Serb air assault.

There is no proof of this although the guerillas have anti-aircraft guns most of the fighting is done with guns such as these.

The K-L-A has however posted snipers in the hills overlooking Orahovac

The Serbs say they are only employing police in conflict areas but reporters saw an army helicopter and heard a tank shell fired near Orahovac.

While most K-L-A members have had little training they do have determination.

SOUNDBITE: (Albanian)
"No I'm not scared. I'm fighting for my land. I gave my word of honour and I swear that I will die for my country."
SUPER CAPTION: Unknown KLA soldier

This latest fighting coincides with a visit to Kosovo's capital, Pristina, by an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe delegation, which is trying to re-start talks between the two sides.

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/you...
Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork


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