Marines Challenged by Serb Snipers
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 24, 1999 Rogue elements targeted U.S. service members during two violent acts in Kosovo, said Task Force Falcon commander Army Brig. Gen. John Craddock June 23.
In the most serious incident, Serb snipers opened fire on Marines manning a roadblock in the village of Zegra, south of the Marine headquarters in Gnjilane. Marines killed one sniper and wounded two others. None of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit service members were hurt in the incident.
In the second incident, snipers fired on 82nd Airborne soldiers near the U.S. sector headquarters in Urosevac. U.S. soldiers were able to detain two men, who remain in detention, said Craddock.
The biggest challenge facing U.S. forces in Kosovo is a rogue element that doesnt know about the military technical agreement or refuses to abide by the agreement, Craddock said. We still continue to find illegal checkpoints that we have to challenge, he said. We have to disarm those people that are [manning] those checkpoints and we have to tear them down.
Craddock said there are more than 4,500 U.S. service members in Kosovo now. A 1st Infantry Division mechanized infantry battalion is slated to arrive in the province June 27.
U.S. forces will continue to patrol and reassure all factions in the area, Craddock said via telephone to a Pentagon news conference. [We] have got to do that in order to maintain the calming influence -- that reassurance -- to all the people of the area that we are here to maintain law and order, he said.
Craddock said U.S. forces are finding more and more minefields as they expand patrols. Weve found buried antipersonnel mines with trip wires, he said. Weve found mines that appear to have been thrown out as forces withdrew toward Serbia along roadsides that are not marked on maps provided by the Serb forces. And there are lots and lots of mines near the border areas with Macedonia.
U.S. Marines and soldiers are also finding booby-traps evacuating Serb forces rigged on ammunition and weapons they left behind, the general said. U.S. service members also are dealing with unexploded NATO ordnance from Operation Allied Force.