Baghdad irked by PKK pullout from Turkey
BAGHDAD / DİYARBAKIR
Handout photo obtained on May 9, 2013 from the Firat New Agency shows a militant of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) standing in an undisclosed mountainous region in Turkey near the border with Iraq. AFP PHOTO
Iraq has said it will not permit militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to remain on its soil as fighters from the group continued the second day of a withdrawal from Turkey to northern Iraq as part of an ongoing peace process.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on its website yesterday that the country “does not accept the entry of armed groups into its territory … [otherwise it will] undermine the security and stability of Iraq or … neighboring countries.”
PKK militants started to withdraw from Turkish soil on May 8 in line with a recent announcement by senior PKK leader Murat Karayılan at a press conference in the Kandil mountains of northern Iraq.
Meanwhile, PKK spokesperson Ahmet Deniz said yesterday that the groups were withdrawing with sensitivity, adding that the militants in Turkey had not yet reached Iraq, Doğan news agency reported. He also said they might organize a press meeting in 10 days once the militants have completed their retreat.
Meanwhile, the first withdrawals started in the eastern province of Hakkari’s Şemdinli and Çukurca districts, which border Iraq. Around 200 PKK militants who left their bases on Kato Mountain between Hakkari and Şırnak marched to the PKK’s Zap camp in northern Iraq.
Around 50 PKK militants were set to leave Çukurca and cross the border through the Kazan valley.
New camps are reportedly being established at Zap for around 1,500 to 2,000 PKK militants who are retreating from Turkey.
The signs of retreat have been visible in rural areas in eastern Turkey, while cars belonging to teachers who went fishing in Diyarbakır’s Lice district two years before they were confiscated and burnt by militants have appeared near the road.
PKK symbols, as well as the group’s name, are also visible on rocks in rural areas.
PKK militants based in Diyarbakır, Bingöl, Erzurum, Muş and Elazığ have reportedly not yet retreated in order to coordinate the withdrawal of militants from other provinces.