World Bulletin/News Desk
Kurdish militants who have fought a decades-old insurgency against Turkey will begin withdrawing from Turkish territory on May 8, the chief of the PKK's armed wing, Murat Karayılan, said on Thursday.
"The withdrawal is planned to be done gradually in groups and targeted to be completed in the shortest possible time," Karayilan said. "Our withdrawing forces will come and be based in southern (Iraqi) Kurdistan."
He said the militants would "withdraw on their own initiative and by using the routes they have used before without allowing any chance for clashes."
Karayilan also described what he called a three-phase "democratic solution process," saying the withdrawal of PKK militants was the first phase.
He said the second phase would include constitutional reforms and the third would the phase of "normalization."
Karayilan also asked for "necessary understanding" from the regional Kurdish government in northern Iraq, where PKK militants would retreat.
Over 50 journalists have travelled to the Qandil region of Iraq for the press conference announced held by PKK in regards to their retreat, as part of the solution process.
Several journalists including the foreign press travelled to Qandil from Irbil by taking the land route.
Following their name check, live broadcast vehicles were not allowed to enter the area.
Meanwhile, members of outlined the rules to press members including being transferred to the region in convoys and not allowing to take in mobile phones.
Senior commanders of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), based in the Qandil Mountains on the Iran border in northern Iraq, announce the withdrawal of their militants from Turkey as part of a settlement process to end the 30-year conflict that has left more than 40,000 people dead.
The chief of the PKK's armed wing, Murat Karayılan, and several of his deputies are expected to officially announce the withdrawal of their members from Turkey.
It is estimated that there are several thousand militants in Turkey, mostly in southeastern Turkey, living in the isolated mountains. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier said that the settlement process will kick off as soon as the withdrawal of the PKK militants begins.
In a bid to resolve the country's decades-old Kurdish problem, at the end of last year the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government launched negotiations with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is incarcerated in prison on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara. In past months, Öcalan, who, despite his 14 years in prison, still wields enormous clout over PKK as well as millions of nationalist Kurds in Turkey, called on PKK militants to lay down their arms and leave Turkey.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US, says it has half of its 7,000 members in Turkey and the other half in northern Iraq, where it maintains its primary camps in remote, nearly impassable mountains. The Turkish government estimates the total number of militants to be lower than 7,000.Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2013, 18:07