Kosovo War

Kosovo War
Part of the Yugoslav Wars[2]
Kosovo War header.jpg
Clockwise from top-left: Yugoslav general staff headquarters damaged by NATO air strikes; a Zastava Koral buried under rubble caused by NATO air strikes; memorial to local KLA commanders; a USAF F-15E taking off from Aviano Air Base
DateFebruary 1998 – 11 June 1999

Kumanovo Treaty

No de jure changes to Yugoslav borders according to Resolution 1244, but de facto and partial de jure political and economic independence of Kosovo from FR Yugoslavia due to being placed under UN administration


 FR Yugoslavia
Commanders and leaders

UCK KLA.svg Adem Jashari 
UCK KLA.svg Hashim Thaçi
UCK KLA.svg Sylejman Selimi
UCK KLA.svg Ramush Haradinaj
UCK KLA.svg Agim Çeku

NATO Wesley Clark

Albania Kudusi Lama [13]

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milošević
Dragoljub Ojdanić

Vlastimir Đorđević[14] Sreten Lukić

UCK KLA.svg 17,000–20,000 KLA insurgents[15]

NATO cca. 80 aircraft
(Operation Eagle Eye)[16]
NATO 1,031 aircraft
(Operation Allied Force)[17]
NATO 30+ warships and submarines[18]

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 85,000 soldiers[19] (including 40,000 in and around Kosovo)[18]
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 20,000 policemen
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 100 SAM sites[18]
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1,400 artillery pieces
(Both ground & air defence)[18]
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 240 aircraft [18]
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 2,032 armoured vehicles & tanks[18]
Serbian paramilitary units (Šakali, Škorpioni), unknown number

Russia Russian volunteers, unknown number[20][21]
Casualties and losses

UCK KLA.svg 1,500 insurgents killed (KLA figures)[22]
UCK KLA.svg 2,131 insurgents killed (HLC figures)[23]

United States 2 killed (non-combat) and 3 captured[24][25]
United States 2 aircraft shot down and 3 damaged
United States Two AH-64 Apaches and an AV-8B Harrier crashed (non-combat)[30]

NATO 47 UAVs shot down[31]

Caused by KLA:
300+ soldiers killed (Yugoslav military figures)[32]
Caused by NATO:
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1,008–1,200 killed[b]
14 tanks,[38] 18 APCs, 20 artillery pieces[39] and 121 aircraft and helicopters destroyed[40]

Caused by KLA and NATO:
1,084 killed (HLC figures)[23]

Albania 8,676 Kosovar Albanian civilians killed or missing[41]
Albania 90% of Kosovar Albanians displaced during the war[42] (848,000–863,000 expelled from Kosovo,[43][44] 590,000 Kosovar Albanians displaced within Kosovo)[42]
1,641[23]–2,500[45] Serb and other non-Albanian civilians killed or missing (445 Roma and others)[23]
230,000 Kosovo Serbs, Romani and other non-Albanian civilians displaced[46]
/Albania Civilian deaths caused by NATO bombing: 489–528 (per Human Rights Watch)[47] or 454–2,500 (HLC and Tanjug figures);[48][45] also includes China 3 Chinese journalists killed

13,548 civilians and fighters dead overall (Albanians, Serbs, Bosniaks, Roma)[41]

The Kosovo War was an armed conflict in Kosovo[a] that started in February 1998[49][50] and lasted until 11 June 1999.[51] It was fought by the forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (i.e. Serbia and Montenegro), which controlled Kosovo before the war, and the Kosovo Albanian rebel group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), with air support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) from 24 March 1999.[52]

The KLA, formed in the early 1990s to fight against Serbian persecution of Kosovo Albanians,[53] initiated its first campaign in 1995 when it launched attacks against Serbian law enforcement in Kosovo. In June 1996 the group claimed responsibility for acts of sabotage targeting Kosovo police stations, during the Kosovo Insurgency.[54][55] In 1997, the organisation acquired a large amount of arms through weapons smuggling from Albania, following a rebellion in which weapons were looted from the country's police and army posts. In early 1998, KLA attacks targeting Yugoslav authorities in Kosovo resulted in an increased presence of Serb paramilitaries and regular forces who subsequently began pursuing a campaign of retribution targeting KLA sympathisers and political opponents;[56] this campaign killed 1,500 to 2,000 civilians and KLA combatants.[57][58]

After attempts at a diplomatic solution failed, NATO intervened, justifying the campaign in Kosovo as a "humanitarian war".[59] This precipitated a mass expulsion of Kosovar Albanians as the Yugoslav forces continued to fight during the aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia (March–June 1999).[60][61] By 2000, investigations had recovered the remains of almost three thousand victims of all ethnicities,[62] and in 2001 a United Nations administered Supreme Court, based in Kosovo, found that there had been "a systematic campaign of terror, including murders, rapes, arsons and severe maltreatments", but that Yugoslav troops had tried to remove rather than eradicate the Albanian population.[63]

The war ended with the Kumanovo Treaty, with Yugoslav and Serb forces[64] agreeing to withdraw from Kosovo to make way for an international presence.[65][66] The Kosovo Liberation Army disbanded soon after this, with some of its members going on to fight for the UÇPMB in the Preševo Valley[67] and others joining the National Liberation Army (NLA) and Albanian National Army (ANA) during the armed ethnic conflict in Macedonia,[68] while others went on to form the Kosovo Police.[69] After the war, a list was compiled which documented that over 13,500 people were killed or went missing during the two year conflict.[70] The Yugoslav and Serb forces caused the displacement of between 1.2 million[71] to 1.45 million Kosovo Albanians.[72] After the war, around 200,000 Serbs, Romani, and other non-Albanians fled Kosovo and many of the remaining civilians were victims of abuse.[73] Serbia became home to the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons in Europe.[74][75]

The NATO bombing campaign has remained controversial, as it did not gain the approval of the UN Security Council and because it caused at least 488 Yugoslav civilian deaths,[76] including substantial numbers of Kosovar refugees.[77][78][79]

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