Nearly half of PKK terrorists reportedly withdraw from Turkey

24 June 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – About half of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists operating in Turkey have left the country since starting their withdrawal on May 8, according to media reports.

The terrorist organization’s exit is part of a settlement process launched in October 2012 by the Turkish government in a bid to solve the country’s long-standing terrorism problem.

The Hürriyet daily reported on Monday that three groups of 50 PKK militants each recently left the Turkish cities of Diyarbakır, Bingöl and Bitlis for the terrorist organization’s Metina camp in northern Iraq.The PKK withdrawal has periodically topped Turkey’s agenda since the Turkish government began a new round of negotiations in October 2012 with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who despite his 14 years in prison still wields enormous clout over PKK terrorists and millions of nationalist Kurds in Turkey. Öcalan recently called on PKK terrorists to lay down their arms and leave Turkey. Holding a press conference in the Kandil Mountains — a PKK stronghold in northern Iraq — on April 25, the senior member of the PKK, Murat Karayılan, and several of his deputies officially announced the withdrawal of their members from Turkey. The PKK terrorists began withdrawing on May 8.

According to Hürriyet, PKK terrorist groups in rural areas near the Black Sea and Sivas province have started leaving the country. While the terrorists withdraw, the PKK militants outside Turkey’s borders are preparing a possible return to armed struggle if the Turkish government fails to take steps promised in the settlement process. High-ranking PKK member Delal Amed, speaking to Hürriyet at the Metina camp, claimed that the government is building new military outposts and recruiting village guards to prepare for new battles with the PKK, adding that despite these preparations, the PKK is doing its part. The Turkish government, she told Hürriyet, has to take the necessary steps to move forward to the second stage of the settlement process, which consists of constitutional and legislative amendments that would bring democratic reforms for Kurds.

Another PKK militant, codenamed “Agit,” said they have not seen any major developments since they started to withdraw. Agit said the process cannot be maintained with unilateral efforts, adding, “We will restart our armed struggle if the process is reversed,” Hürriyet reported.

The PKK has reportedly launched an investigation into an incident in which a Turkish military helicopter carrying two commanders was attacked last week by suspected PKK members.

The General Staff announced on June 21 that suspected terrorists in the İkiyaka Mountains in Hakkari’s Yüksekova district fired unidentified weapons four times, hitting the helicopter carrying the head of the Hakkari Gendarmerie Command and the head of the 3rd Division Command. The helicopter managed to land safely after sustaining damage. There were no casualties.

In the meantime, families of 200 young people who are believed have joined the PKK filed missing persons reports at police departments in the provinces of Adana, Van, Hakkari, Bingöl, Bitlis, Şanlıurfa and Diyarbakır, asking the police to find their children.One parent who had not heard from his son for a month told reporters that after being told his son had joined the PKK he rushed to the police station. With the start of the settlement process, the PKK intensified its recruitment efforts. About 2,000 young people have joined the PKK since January, according to data from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The terrorist organization has allegedly also stepped up recruitment at universities.