PKK sets date for withdrawal from Turkey

The Kurdish rebel group the PKK has announced it will withdraw its thousands of fighters from Turkey starting on May 8. The rebels from the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), who have been fighting the Turkish government for the last three decades, will move to northern Iraq after leaving Turkish territory. During the announcement, the armed group warned Turkey’s powerful military against “provocations” which would result in the end of the pledged withdrawal.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from the Qandil mountains where the news conference was held, said the withdrawal would take a phased approach. “It will be a phased withdrawal from Turkey. They won’t put a number on how many fighters are coming but speaking later the PKK officials estimated that it will take several months for them to withdraw,” she said. “That’s partly because this will be conducted as a guerrilla operation. One of the keys here is that they intend to keep their weapons. There will be no laying down of weapons in Turkey before they withdraw. “They say they’ll go undercover of night with their weapons and eventually, once they’re all gathered in northern Iraq, they say with the approval of Kurdish authorities here they will discuss disarming.”

The pro-Kurdish Firat news agency says rebel commander Murat Karayilan made the withdrawal announcement on Thursday at a news conference in northern Iraq where the PKK’s leadership is based. “As part of ongoing preparations, the withdrawal will begin on May 8, 2013,” Karayilan said. “Our forces will use their right to retaliate in the event of an attack, operation or bombing against our withdrawing guerrilla forces and the withdrawal will immediately stop.”

Read the full article here.

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