ANKARA (AP) — The Turkish defense ministry announced Saturday it will be sending a commando battalion to northern Kosovo in response to a NATO request for troops to help quell violent unrest.
The request came from NATO’s Joint Force Command Naples, the ministry said in a press statement posted on its official Twitter account, and the battalion will join the alliance’s peacekeeping mission in the region, known as KFOR, as a reserve unit.
A defense ministry official said around 500 Turkish troops would be going to Kosovo. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with ministry regulations.
NATO announced on Tuesday that it would be sending 700 troops to bolster the force in the area. KFOR currently consists of almost 3,800 troops, including some 350 from Turkey.
Violent clashes with ethnic Serbs on Monday left 30 international soldiers — 11 Italians and 19 Hungarians — wounded, including fractures and burns from improvised explosive incendiary devices.
The clashes grew out of a confrontation that unfolded earlier after ethnic Albanian officials elected in votes overwhelmingly boycotted by Serbs entered municipal buildings to take office and were blocked by Serbs.
“We urge restraint and dialogue to resolve these developments in northern Kosovo which endanger regional security and stability,” the Turkish statement read. The Turkish commando battalion will be deploying to the Sultan Murat Barracks in Kosovo on Sunday and Monday.