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Macedonian NLA

A guerilla group named the "National Liberation Army" (Albanian: Ushtria Clirimtare Kombetare -UCK) which operated in Republic of Macedonia in 2000 and 2001. Also known as the Macedonian UCK. Not to be confused with the Kosovar UCK - Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves - the Kosovo Liberation Army.

The Macedonian NLA consisted of ethnic Albanians (of which many were probably former KLA members) seeking to unite western Macedonia with Kosovo and Albania. However, the official demands by NLA was only equal rights and security for the minorities. This was probably aimed at achieving respectability in Western eyes, and also set the agenda for the legitimate Albanian parties in Macedonia.

The NLA was founded in founded in the fall of 1999, and was led by Ali Ahmeti, the nephew of Fazli Veliu[?], founder of the KLA.

Fighting escalated in March 2001, when Tetovo[?], the second largest city of the Republic, with an Albanian majority, was attacked. The NLA was not able to take Tetovo, but controlled the hills and mountains between Tetovo and Kosovo. NLA was also supported by incursions from Kosovo, so the links to KLA and UCPMB was obvious, but never officially admitted.

After a government offensive in April and May, and the dissolving of the UCPMB, the NLA agreed to a cease-fire in June. The government agreed to improve the Albanian minority's rights, and the NLA was to disarm and hand over their weapons to a NATO force.

Operation "Essential Harvest" was officially launched on 22 August and effectively started on 27 August. This 30-day mission involved approximately 3500 NATO troops to disarm the NLA and destroy their weapons. Just hours after NATO wrapped up the operation, Ali Ahmeti told reporters attending a news conference in the rebel stronghold of Sipkovica that he was dissolving the National Liberation Army and that it was time for ethnic reconciliation.



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