UK troops to join Nato Kosovo force in 2017

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
British soldiers near the southern Kosovo town of Kacanik in 1999

British troops are to be sent to support Nato operations in Kosovo, the defence secretary has said.

Sir Michael Fallon said about 30 soldiers would travel early next year to join the Nato Kosovo Force (Kfor) on a 12-month deployment.

He said "significant security and stability challenges" remained in the western Balkans.

Set up in 1999, Kfor is tasked with maintaining safety, security and freedom of movement in Kosovo.

The British soldiers will be based in the Kosovan capital, Pristina, and support Kfor's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

Sir Michael said: "Nato remains a cornerstone of our defence. By continuing to defend the security of Europe, Britain's security is strengthened at home."

Kosovo in brief

  • After the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia responds to separatist pressure from Kosovo by launching a brutal crackdown on the territory's Albanian population
  • Nato intervenes in 1999, bombing Serb targets and forcing Belgrade to withdraw troops
  • Kosovo declares independence in 2008
  • The US and major EU countries recognise the move; Serbia calls it illegal
  • Kosovo and Serbia reach landmark agreement in 2013 on normalising relations

Nato says that as the security situation in Kosovo has gradually improved, Kfor has become a "smaller and more flexible force".

The force now comprises about 4,300 troops from 30 countries.