During the summer of 1999, Canada continued its participation in the transition of former Yugoslavia. Different United Nations task forces were established and distributed throughout the region. Many Canadians may be unaware, but up to 2,000 Canadian Soldiers served in the Balkan region at any one time. These included the Canadian Task Force Kosovo (TFK), which aided the Kosovo Force (KFOR) during the late 90s.
As the Kosovo Liberation Army sought independence for its county, the Serbian military and police forces continued to clash with the other ethnic groups in the area. In 1998, full out war erupted between the Serbian military and the newly formed Kosovo Liberation Army. This led to a number of violent clashes along with the emergence of humanitarian atrocities.
In hopes of easing the return of the Albanian refugees that were displaced during the Yugoslavian wars, the UN conducted airstrikes on Serbian militants stationed in Kosovo (June 12th, 1999). Peacekeepers were later committed to the region in order to facilitate and maintain the ceasefire. Operation Kinetic as it was called, began 2 days after the release of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. This Resolution called for the peaceful return of refugees and the immediate halting of all humanitarian violations. Following the success of the UN intervention, Kosovo has maintained its ceasefire.
In 2007, Kosovo officially declared its independence from Serbia. Unfortunately, many countries have yet to acknowledge its status as an independent nation. This lack of recognition has maintained the tensions in the region and although Operation Kinetic ended in June 2000, the UN has since returned along with Canadian soldiers. As of June 2016, Operation KOBOLD, as it is now referred to, remains an active peacekeeping mission to this day.
For more info,
On Operation Kinetic, click here.
On Operation Kobold, click here.
Main photo: On the Kosovo-Serbia border, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. (Credit: National Defense and the Canadian Armed Forces, ISD00-1376a)