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KLA Priority: Protect Refugees

The Kosovo Liberation Army's main concern right now is the safety of the refugees who are living in various KLA enclaves, KLA political director Pleurat Sejdiu said Friday on CBS This Morning.

"We have to carry out a protection for the nearly 300,000 refugees. Our every action must bear in mind that we have civilians behind us," Sejdiu said. "Our biggest disadvantage is that we are not armed. But as the war is going on, we have more trained people and more new modern weaponry."

Sejdiu said he expects volunteers from the U.S. and Europe to increase the number of KLA troops from more than 25,000 to 45,000.

"This is in response to the demands of the KLA command for general mobilization. Everybody will be trained and the period of training will depend on their military background," Sejdiu said.

He also said he hopes the U.S. will send in ground troops.

"Without them we will not be able Â… to stop [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic with his genocidal policy and obtain future peace in the Balkans," Sejdiu said.

Before the start of NATO air strikes over Yugoslavia, the KLA quickly emerged as the chief opposition to Serb aggression.

Financed by money from the ethnic Albanian community at home and abroad, the KLA began as a mostly ragtag movement using small arms smuggled in from Albania.

But the KLA has a unified goal: complete independence for Kosovo.

To that end, Sejdiu denied reports that the KLA is being driven out of the battered province.

"The defensive methods are in accordance with the demands of the United Nations and the contact group, and the KLA must stay on their declared cease-fire," Sejdiu said.

Sejdiu also said the Serbs are to blame for the recent NATO bombing of a civilian convoy.

"I consider [the bombing] as a part of the tragedy that is happening in Kosovo," Sejdiu said. "The only [one] to be blamed is Milosevic himself and his army, who actually put these people on the street, on the move from their homes."

The rebel group had gradually assumed control of as much as 40 percent of the Kosovo countryside when Milosevic launched an offensive in February 1998 to crush it.

Milosevic's superior forces eventually routed the rebels and were close to decimating all KLA strongholds when the West threatened NATO air strikes.

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