NATO-led troops on the move in northern Kosovo

A spokesman for the international KFOR forces, which guarantees the security of the former Serbian province, confirmed the deployment and told AFP it was part of "normal exercises all around Kosovo". 

NATO-led troops on the move in northern Kosovo

Kosovo's NATO-led peacekeepers moved troops through the Serb-dominated north on Thursday, an AFP correspondent reported, amid high tensions with Serbia on the eve of a vote to create a Kosovo army. 

"We have a couple of convoys moving around. One of them is going today to the north," said KFOR spokesman Vincenzo Grasso, adding that there was no reason for alarm.

About 50 KFOR vehicles moved through the city of Mitrovica and headed north in the direction of Leposavic, a mostly Serb municipality, an AFP correspondent said.

The top local official in Leposavic municipality confirmed troops were in the village of Dren on Thursday morning.

"They are heavily armed and equipped to prevent demonstrations," Zoran Todic added.

The movement comes as Kosovo lawmakers prepare to vote Friday to transform a local crisis response force into a full-fledged army.

The vote has outraged Belgrade, which refuses to accept the independence Kosovo declared in 2008, a decade after a brutal guerilla war.

Top Serbian leaders have cast the army plans as a threat to the 120,000 Serbs still living in ethnic Albanian-majority Kosovo, predominantly in the north. They also oppose the move.

Pristina has struggled to exercise its authority in Serb enclaves that still pledge allegiance to Belgrade.

In 2012, there were violent riots in northern Kosovo after Pristina authorities sent police to take control of two border crossings with Serbia.

KFOR, which has more than 4,000 troops, has been deployed in Kosovo since the end of the 1998-99 war between Serb forces and Kosovo Albanian separatists, which left more than 13,000 dead.