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Former Serb Red Berets in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Former Serbian "Red Berets" elites forces are now being employed as private security personnel in Baghdad.

About 30 former members of the Jedinica za Specijalne Operacije Special Operations Unit, better known as the JSO or Red Berets, have been working for private security contractors in Iraq for $8,000 a month.

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Vecernje Novosti daily said the men were recruited through a security agency in Sarajevo in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina. A former JSO member based in Belgrade, who currently works for the Serbian National Security Council, recruited the men.

In March 2003 the Serbian government disbanded the Red Berets after occupying their headquarters in Vojvodina province. The Red Berets were former President Slobodan Milosevic's Ministry of the Interior elite troops.

The Serbians are providing security for oil fields, government offices and foreign companies. They guard German and English engineers working in Iraq, according Vecernje Novosti.

The Serbians join an increasing number of foreign former military personnel supplementing coalition forces in Iraq. Some media estimates put the number of private security personnel as high as 40,000.

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