Pedestrians walk under United States flags displayed at the Mother Teresa square in Pristina on December 14, 2018. (AFP/Armend NIMANI)
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Kosovo on Friday passed laws to build an army, asserting its statehood in a move that has inflamed tensions with Serbia, which does not recognize the former province's independence.Kosovo has been guarded by NATO-led peacekeeping troops since it broke away from Belgrade in a bloody separatist war in 1998-99 .The new laws will double the size of a small crisis-response outfit, the Kosovo Security Force, and set out a national defense mandate for a professional army of 5,000 troops.The vote will delight many Kosovo Albanians, who are ready to celebrate the army as a new pillar of their independence, which was declared in 2008 .NATO, which has four members that do not recognize Kosovo, had warned the army move was "ill-timed" amid already strained ties between Pristina and Belgrade.
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