Clinton orders reinforcements to Macedonia
War Powers Act invoked
March 27, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton has dispatched 100 "combat equipped" Marines to help protect the besieged U.S. embassy in Macedonia.
His order came after the embassy was attacked by an angry mob of Serb supporters demonstrating outside the mission Thursday in the wake of U.S.-led NATO airstrikes.
Clinton's dispatch of the troops was advised in a letter to Congress on Friday formalizing his earlier order of U.S. troops into military combat. The letter is required under the U.S. War Powers Act.
In explaining his action, Clinton said, "The Kosovo region is a tinderbox that could ignite a wider European war with dangerous consequences to the United States."
"Sound military planning may also call for sending a limited number of additional U.S. military personnel to Macedonia in support of ongoing operations,'' his letter conceded.
The Marines will join 350 U.S. troops already on the ground in Macedonia as part of a NATO force that would help enforce any peace agreement brokered for Kosovo.
CNN's Matthew Chance in Skopje reported a strong security operation under way in the Macedonian capital Saturday involving patrols of heavily armed police.
He said the U.S. embassy in the city had also authorized its non-essential staff to leave Macedonia.
Demonstrations against the NATO strikes have hit several European capitals since hostilities broke out Wednesday.
The biggest demonstrations have been in Greece. On Friday, thousands of protesters, some waving Greek and Yugoslav flags, surrounded the U.S. embassy in Athens. Many carried Orthodox Christian religious icons -- signifying the shared faith of the two nations.
Protests were expected to resume Saturday in Athens.
In Toronto, home to Canada's largest population of people of Serbian descent, members of the local Serb community have vowed to protest every night in front of the U.S. consulate as long as the NATO airstrikes continue.
On Friday there were also protests in Macedonia, Cyprus and in the Serb-controlled portion of Bosnia, where a British diplomatic outpost was destroyed by fire.
Correspondent Matthew Chance contributed to this report.
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