PKK leader announces Turkey withdrawal

  • The military leader of Kurdish rebels, Murat Karayilan, has announced that fighters will begin to withdraw from Turkey in early May.

    "The withdrawal is planned in phases... and will be completed as soon as possible," said the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on Thursday.

    Karayilan made the announcement at a press briefing at a party base in the PKK stronghold of northern Iraq’s Kandil mountains.

    The move comes after jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan called for a ceasefire as part of peace negotiations with Ankara.

    The decision has been cautiously welcomed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Several previous attempts at a ceasefire between the two sides have failed.

    More than 40,000 people have lost their lives in the 30-year fight for an ethnic Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey.

    The PKK is viewed by Turkey, the United States and European Union as a terrorist organization because of its attacks on Turkish security forces and civilians.