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First PKK fighters arrive in Iraq

May 14, 2013 at 10:35 AM   |   Comments

ERBIL, Iraq, May 14 (UPI) -- A few members of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party crossed the Turkish border to Iraq as part of a broader withdrawal, a member said Tuesday.

Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the outlaw group known by its Kurdish initials PKK, following talks with Turkish officials in March called on PKK fighters to leave Turkey.

A group of 13 men and women crossed the Turkish border into northern Iraq. Fighters who spoke with al-Jazeera Tuesday said they were delayed because of heavy rains and snow in the mountainous region.

Turkish military officials said Monday they hadn't seen any evidence that PKK fighters were leaving the country. PKK commanders set May 8 as the start of the withdrawal process.

PKK spokesman Ciger Gewker was quoted by al-Jazeera as saying they wanted Turkish officials to honor their end of the bargain.

"We ask the Turkish side to be sincere with us so we can achieve the common interest," he said. "The next step is up to Turkey. If they deal with our move in a positive manner it will be quicker."

The Turkish government offered no security guarantees to PKK fighters. They didn't disarm as part of the withdrawal process.

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