Diplomats from the United States, Russia, Poland and the European Union left in a convoy Monday to tour Kosovo's volatile southwest, the site of recent fighting.

The Belgrade-based diplomats departed amid reports of fighting close to their planned route near Pec, 45 miles west of Pristina. Their nine cars were followed by more than a dozen media vehicles.The 120-mile route they planned to cover Monday touches on territory held by the ethnic Albanian's Kosovo Liberation Army. Richard Miles, the U.S. charge d'affaires in Belgrade, said the observers hoped to make contact with the militant separatist organization on the road from Srbica to Klina.

"This is an inaugural trip. We have chosen the route carefully to minimize the risk," Miles said. "But toward the end of the week, we will be pushing the envelope."

Hundreds of people, most ethnic Albanians, have died since late February when Serb security forces launched a crackdown on separatists in Kosovo. Tens of thousands of villagers have been forced to flee their homes to escape the fighting.