Turkish troops withdraw from Iraq

Iraq's foreign minister says all troops have returned to the Turkish side of border.

     US administration officials had urged Turkey to end the offensive as soon as possible [EPA]

    "We welcome this, we think this is the right thing for Turkey to do."

    Partial withdrawal?

    According to a senior Turkish military source, some troops had returned to bases in Turkey, but no full withdrawal had begun.

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    "Inside Iraq there are still Turkish soldiers, and at the moment there is no complete withdrawal," the source said.

    A senior US official in Iraq said on Friday that a "limited" number of Turkish troops are leaving the area.

    "We are seeing a limited portion of the troops that had entered Iraq moving back toward Turkey. [It's] too early to call this a withdrawal," the official said.

    PKK confirmation

    Ahmed Danis, a spokesman for the PKK, confirmed the Turkish troop movements.

    "Turkish troops have started a limited withdrawal from the Zap region at the border, he said.

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    "We are observing military movements like empty military trucks coming from Turkey. The trucks are being loaded with troops and returning to Turkey.

    "If they [Turkish troops] withdraw completely it would be a victory for Kurdistan and for the PKK."

    Zap is located northwest of the city of Dohuk in northern Iraq, near the Turkish border.

    It is said to have a large training base for the PKK.

    Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from the town of Zakho, said that the area had quietened down.

    "The fierce fighting we have seen has decreased significantly. But a halt to the fighting does not mean that the Turkish military will stop all operations in the area."

    Bush's appeal

    Turkey's political and military leaders have said the operation would continue for as long as necessary.

    On Thursday, George Bush, the US president, urged Turkey to end the incursion as soon as possible.

    The Turkish's military says it has killed 237 PKK fighters and lost 24 soldiers.

    The PKK claims to have killed more than 100 Turkish soldiers but has not given a figure for fighter casualties.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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