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Iran holds day of solidarity with Kosovo Albanians

TEHRAN, May 13 (AFP) - Hundreds of tents sprang up all over Tehran Thursday to collect donations for the victims of the war in Kosovo, as Iran held a day of solidarity with the Kosovar Moslems.

The nation-wide operation followed days of appeals by radio, television and political and religious leaders calling for Iranians to give material support to "their Moslem brothers and sisters in Kosovo who are the victims of both the Serb massacres and NATO air strikes."

The country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mohammad Khatami set the tone by making donations of 100 million and 50 million riyals respectively (33,000 and 16,000 dollars at the official rate) to a special bank account set up for Kosovo at the initiative of senior conservative cleric Ahmad Janati.

The radio played its part by broadcasting Kosovar and Bosnian songs all morning to ask Iranians to give aid to their fellow Moslems.

The official Iranian news agency, IRNA, described the response to the appeals as "massive."

A ninth plane carrying humanitarian supplies consisting of blankets, tents, detergents and food left Iran for Macedonia Wednesday evening.

Iran says more aid will be dispatched in the coming days.

Tehran has protested to Yugoslavia about the killings of Kosovars by Serbian forces, and demanded that Belgrade "put an immediate end to the campaign of repression."

At the same time it has from the beginning condemned NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia.

Khatami described the operation as "illegal," while Khamenei described it as an attempt to eliminate the region's Moslems.


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