IP - Serbia has deployed sophisticated tanks and artillery near the frontier with Kosovo after deadly clashes erupted at a monastery in northern Kosovo last weekend.

Iran PressEurope: The Serbian military build-up follows clashes last weekend that began when heavily armed Serb gunmen ambushed a patrol a few miles from the Serbian border, killing a Kosovar police officer.

The incident marked one of the gravest escalations in tension for years between Serbia and the former breakaway province that is now Kosovo. 

Several dozen assailants then barricaded themselves at an Orthodox monastery, sparking an hour-long firefight in which three gunmen were killed and three were arrested.

The United States has urged Belgrade to pull its forces back from the border with Kosovo after detecting what it called an “unprecedented” Serbian military build-up.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken telephoned Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic earlier on Friday to urge “immediate de-escalation and a return to dialogue”, Kirby added.

Vucic has not directly denied there had been a recent build-up but rejected claims that his country’s forces were on high alert.

Serbia said Wednesday that the defense minister and head of the armed forces had gone to visit a “deployment zone” but gave no further details.

Kosovo broke away from Serbia in a bloody war in 1998-99 and declared independence in 2008 – a status Belgrade and Moscow have refused to recognize.

Relations have long been strained between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority and Serb minority and tensions have escalated sharply in recent months in northern Kosovo.


Read More: