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Friday, June 11, 1999 Published at 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK

World: Europe

Kosovo Serbs pack up and leave

Thousands of Kosovo homes have been burned

By the BBC's Mike Williams

The roads out of Kosovo are full of military vehicles.

Interspersed among them are civilian cars packed with the belongings of Serbs who have decided that Kosovo is no longer their home.

Kosovo: Special Report
Each car sags under the weight of furniture and clothes, washing machines and televisions.

One lorry passed by with a sofa and armchairs among the boxes and standing behind them, two of the family's cows.

[ image: Serb civilians are joining the military exodus]
Serb civilians are joining the military exodus
This is a mass migration. In the countryside outside the capital, Pristina, soldiers travel in coaches, cars they have commandeered and, in an echo of the Albanian refugee exodus, on tractors and trailers.

The border of Kosovo on the road to Belgrade is marked by a bridge and as the soldiers pass under it, thundering through in their armoured personnel carriers and mobile anti-aircraft guns, they cheer, "Serbia! Serbia!" in part patriotism, in part relief at the fact that they are no longer in Kosovo.

Russians head south

Control of the province will soon pass into the hands of international peacekeepers.

Russian troops have crossed the Yugoslav border from Bosnia and they are said to be heading south towards Kosovo.

No-one is sure if they will enter the province ahead of the British and the Americans.

Nato's advance units are said to be on full alert and already low-flying jets have roared across Pristina - perhaps to test if Serbia is truly ready to relinquish control of this province.

It is now just a matter of hours before that plan becomes a reality.

[ image:  ]

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