National Liberation Army (Albanians of Macedonia)

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The National Liberation Army (Albanian: Ushtria Çlirimtare Kombëtare - UÇK; Macedonian: Ослободителна народна армија - ОНА, Osloboditelna narodna armija - ONA), also known as the Macedonian UÇK, was a militant[1] organization that operated in the Republic of Macedonia in 2001 and was closely associated[2] with the KLA.

Following the 2001 Macedonian War, it was disarmed under the terms of the Ohrid Agreement, under which greater rights and autonomy were to be given to the country's Albanian minority population. However, in the disarmament of the organization, mainly outdated weapons were returned.

Contents

The NLA and the Macedonian War

The NLA was founded in the fall of 1999, and was led by former KLA Commander Ali Ahmeti, nephew of one of the founders of the KLA, but was out of the public eye until it began to openly engage the Macedonian military and police.[citation needed] The NLA's proclaimed goal was equal rights for the ethnic Albanian minority within a confederate Macedonia.[3] Senior NLA commanders insisted that "We do not want to endanger the stability and the territorial integrity of Macedonia, but we will fight a guerrilla war until we have won our basic rights, until we are accepted as an equal people inside Macedonia." [4] The Macedonian government claimed the NLA were an extremist terrorist organization seeking to separate Albanian majority areas and unite those territories with Albania.

Beginning on January 22, 2001 the NLA began to carry out attacks on Macedonian security forces, using light weapons.[5] The conflict soon escalated and by the start of March 2001, the NLA had taken effective control of a large swathe of northern and western Macedonia and came within 12 miles of the capital Skopje.[6]

In March 2001, NLA members failed to take the city of Tetovo in an open attack, but controlled the hills and mountains between Tetovo and Kosovo. On May 3, 2001 a Macedonian government counter offensive failed in the Kumanovo area.[6] By June 8, the rebels took Aračinovo, a village outside of Skopje. On August 16, the two sides signed a peace deal ending the open conflict.

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