Këshilla (literally meaning "Council"; Greek: Ξιλία - Ksilia) was a local administration introduced in Thesprotia region in Greece, in 1942, by the Italian occupation forces. Italy's aim was to annex this region under Occupied Albania, but German authorities did not support this action and put it under the control of Athens. Since portions of Epirus were annexed to Greece in 1913 Cham Albanians saw an opportunity to reverse the annexation and join Albania under the Italian protectorate. Several hundred Cham Albanians supported this authority, becoming the leaders of Këshilla, but the majority and the local leaders opposed it. This would be used as an excuse by EDES forces at the end of the war, to expel all Muslim Chams from the region, whether collaborated or not.
Following the Italian invasion of Albania, the Albanian Kingdom became a protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy. The Italians, especially governor Francesco Jacomoni, used the Cham issue as a means to rally Albanian support. Although in the event, Albanian enthusiasm for the "liberation of Chameria" was muted, Jacomoni sent repeated over-optimistic reports to Rome on Albanian support.
As the final excuse for the start of the Greco-Italian War, Jacomoni used the killing of a Cham Albanian leader Daut Hoxha, whose headless body was discovered near the village of Vrina in June 1940. It was alleged by the Italian-controlled government in Tirana that he had been murdered by Greek secret agents. Hoxha was a military leader of the Cham struggle during the inter-war years, leading to him branded as a bandit by the Greek government.
In October 1940, the Greek authorities disarmed 1,800 Cham conscripts and put them to work on local roads. On the following month, after the Italian invasion, they seized all Albanian males not called up and deported them to camps or to island exile. Under these circumstances, as Italy managed to control Greece after the German invasion, several hundred Cham Albanians formed a local administration called Këshilla in 1942. These armed bands took part alongside the German army in burning Greek villages. But the local beys and the mufti did not support such actions. In 1943, this organization was completed with its own armed forces as well as a gendarmerie.
Although the Italians wanted to annex Chameria to Albania, the Germans vetoed the proposal. An Albanian High Commissioner, Xhemil Dino, was appointed, but his authority was limited, and for the duration of the Occupation, the area remained under direct control from the military authorities in Athens.
- Kretsi, Georgia.The Secret Past of the Greek-Albanian Borderlands. Cham Muslim Albanians: Perspectives on a Conflict "Albanian political administration called ‘Këshilla’ was founded in 1942, and after 1943 it was completed with its own armed forces as well as a gendarmerie".
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- Vickers, Miranda. The Cham Issue - Albanian National & Property Claims in Greece. Paper prepared for the British MoD, Defence Academy, 2002.ISBN 1-903584-76-0.
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- Elsie, Robert & Bejtullah Destani (2013). The Cham Albanians of Greece. A Documentary History. IB Tauris. Retrieved 9 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Kretsi, Georgia (2002). "The Secret Past of the Greek-Albanian Borderlands. Cham Muslim Albanians: Perspectives on a Conflict over Historical Accountability and Current Rights". Ethnologia Balkanica. Retrieved 8 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>