HAKKARI, | Hawlati.net | aksam.com.tr | – 4.5.2013 – Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have captured video of groups of guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leaving Turkey’s Kurdish region, the Turkish Aksam reported on Friday.
The top commander of the PKK, Murat Karayılan, announced that the group would would begin withdrawing from Turkish territory on May 8.
But Karayilan, the PKK’s military chief, said on April 28, that the pullback was likely to last into autumn, despite Ocalan’s wish that it be completed by end of summer. The PKK was ordered to leave Turkey by its imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan, in March as a result of peace negotiations between government officials and Öcalan that have been going on since October of last year. There has been much speculation as to when and how the PKK guerrillas within Turkish borders will leave but no details have been publicly announced.
Human Rights Association (IHD) headquarters has established a commission to monitor the process of withdrawal by Kurdish guerrillas as of 8 May, Firat News Agency reported. The commission is planned to monitor the withdrawal of guerrillas from Turkish borders, possible armed clashes-and to decide on the side at fault-, activities of temporary and permanent village guard groups, as well as those of temporary commands, battalions and brigades and special operation teams hired for the armed conflict process in Kurdistan, activities in newly built border military posts, mined lands and villages evacuated in 90’s in the eastern andsoutheastern regions of Turkey.
The video showing the withdraw of PKK guerrillas is available on Youtube.
Turkish Sabah daily claimed on Friday that UAVs hovering in the Kurdish Hakkari-Şırnak region spotted PKK rebels activity in areas close to the Iraqi Kurdistan border. The images show the groups trying to avoid the UAV cameras, according to Sabah’s report. The daily claimed that the groups appear to be preparing for the eventual withdrawal.
Small groups have been gathering in valleys close to the Iraqi Kurdistan region border and are expected to cross the border into Iraq soon. Local sources that Sabah spoke with confirmed that the first phases of the withdrawal have begun. Security forces have also detected increased activity.
However, sources say that it will take days for the militants to completely withdraw to PKK camps in Kurdistan region in Iraq’s north.
Last week, Gen. Necdet Özal and the military forces commanders visited the Kurdish provinces of Hakkari and Şırnak in Northern Kurdistan (southeastern Turkey). Sources say military officers then briefed the commanders on the developments in the region. Meanwhile, Justice and Development Party (AKP) Diyarbakir deputy Galip Ensarioğlu evaluated the recent news about the PKK. He said: “As we speak about when and how the PKK will retreat, it might have already started to. Of course they will not be leaving as an entire regimen; they will leave in small groups. The National Intelligence Organization [MİT] can easily organize this.”
Ensarioğlu recalled that in 1999, the PKK also started to withdraw as part of an earlier attempt at peace. However, 500 PKK militants were killed by Turkish security forces. He said this is causing some tension today, but added: “But there was no strength to the will of the state at that time. The PKK decided to withdraw but the state didn’t want that. Today, there is a will on the part of the state to see through the withdrawal. There are rumors that some gendarmerie station unhappy about the settlement process could open fire as the PKK militants withdraw. This is not going to happen because everything is on track now on the state’s side.”