World Bulletin/News Desk
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have captured images of groups of militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) preparing to leave Turkish territory, the Sabah daily reported on Friday.
The head of the PKK's armed units, Murat Karayılan, announced that the group would start leaving Turkish territory on May 8.
The PKK was ordered to leave Turkey by its imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, in March as a result of peace negotiations between government officials and Öcalan that have been going on since October of last year. There has been much speculation as to when and how the PKK militants within Turkish borders will leave but no details have been publicly announced.
Sabah claimed on Friday that UAVs hovering in the Hakkari-Şırnak region spotted PKK militant activity in areas close to the Iraqi border. The images show the groups trying to avoid the UAV cameras, according to Sabah's report. The daily claimed that the groups appear to be preparing for the eventual withdrawal.
Small groups have been gathering in valleys close to the northern Iraqi border and are expected to cross the border into Iraq soon. Local sources that Sabah spoke with confirmed that the first phases of the withdrawal have begun. Security forces have also detected increased activity.
However, sources say that it will take days for the militants to completely withdraw to PKK camps in northern Iraq.
Last week, Gen. Necdet Özal and the military forces commanders visited the provinces of Hakkari and Şırnak. Sources say military officers then briefed the commanders on the developments in the region.
Meanwhile, Justice and Development Party (AKP) Diyarbakır deputy Galip Ensarioğlu evaluated the recent news about the PKK. He said: “As we speak about when and how the PKK will retreat, it might have already started to. Of course they will not be leaving as an entire regimen; they will leave in small groups. The National Intelligence Organization [MİT] can easily organize this.”
Ensarioğlu recalled that in 1999, the PKK also started to withdraw as part of an earlier attempt at peace. However, 500 PKK militants were killed by Turkish security forces. He said this is causing some tension today, but added: “But there was no strength to the will of the state at that time. The PKK decided to withdraw but the state didn't want that. Today, there is a will on the part of the state to see through the withdrawal. There are rumors that some gendarmerie station unhappy about the settlement process could open fire as the PKK militants withdraw. This is not going to happen because everything is on track now on the state's side.”Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2013, 10:33