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In Pictures: PKK fighters arrive in Iraq
First batch of Kurdish fighters withdrawing from Turkey received by their comrades in northern Iraq.
The first group of Kurdish fighters to withdraw from Turkey under a peace process has entered northern Iraq.
Published On 14 May 2013
14 May 2013
The 13 men and women arrived in the area of Heror near Metina mountain on the Turkish-Iraqi border on Tuesday, and were greeted by comrades from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in a symbolic step towards ending a three-decades-old insurgency.
They were carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, light machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers and had rucksacks on their backs.
PKK fighters began leaving their positions in southeast Turkey on May 8 after a ceasefire declared by Abdullah Ocalan, their jailed leader, in March to end a conflict that has killed 40,000 people.
After the welcome, the apparently-exhausted fighters put down their weapons and warmed themselves at a fire.
Some 2,000 PKK fighters are based in Turkey and will join several thousand of their comrades in their bases in northern Iraq in a process expected to take several months.
The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, is seeking political reforms to boost Kurdish rights in exchange for bringing the conflict to an end.
A permanent peace could transform Turkey(***)s impoverished Kurdish-majority southeast, where investment has remained scarce and infrastructure insufficient due to the threat of violence.
Turkey is believed to be home to the largest single community of ethnic Kurds, who are scattered across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.