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Start of the Kosovo War

Klaus Dahmann / bkApril 23, 2013

Fighting between the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian forces begins in 1998. After internationally-mediated peace talks fail, NATO launches air strikes to force Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević to back down.

Albanian refugees fleeing fighting in KosovoImage: Eric Feferberg/AFP/GettyImages

Starting in the 1980s, the southern Serbian province of Kosovo experiences unrest as tensions rise between the ruling Serbs and ethnic Kosovo Albanians. In 1998, armed skirmishes flare up between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and Serbian law enforcement. Hundreds of thousands of civilians seek refuge from the fighting. All international attempts to resolve the conflict fail.

In March 1999 NATO launches air raids on targets throughout the former Yugoslavia. On June 10 President Slobodan Milošević backs down. Kosovo is placed under international administration and declares independence in 2008, against Belgrade's wishes.