Kurdish rebels to begin pullout from Turkey on May 8

Updated 26 April 2013
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Kurdish rebels to begin pullout from Turkey on May 8

ANKARA, Turkey: Kurdish rebels announced on Thursday they would on May 8 begin withdrawing from Turkey into their safe haven in northern Iraq amid a peace drive between Ankara and the rebel movement.
But the armed group warned Turkey’s powerful military against “provocations” which would see the end of the pledged withdrawal by outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters.
“As part of ongoing preparations, the withdrawal will begin on May 8, 2013,” PKK leader Murat Karayilan was quoted as saying by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency.
“The withdrawal is planned in phases ... and is aimed to be finalized as soon as possible,” he said without providing any exact timetable.
But the PKK leader also urged the Turkish army “to act with the same sensitivity and seriousness.”
“Our forces will use their right to retaliate in the event of an attack, operation or bombing against our withdrawing guerilla forces and the withdrawal will immediately stop,” Karayilan warned.
Previous attempts at ending the insurgency were crippled after splinter groups within the PKK torpedoed peace efforts or Ankara backtracked because of opposition from nationalist groups.
Karayilan said permanent peace would be reached in three phases and withdrawal would only be the first.
The highly-publicized announcement — which was widely covered by the Turkish media in Qandil Mountain, the PKK headquarters in northern Iraq — comes after the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan ordered on March 21 a historic cease-fire.
The plans emerged following several letter exchanges between the PKK command and Ocalan, who wrote up the letters after months of clandestine negotiations with the Turkish intelligence agency with an ultimate goal of disarming the rebel group.
The PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, started an armed rebellion for self-rule in the Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984, which has cost around 45,000 lives.
Karayilan said that the government would be expected to “do its part” in the second stage and take steps to democratise Turkey and abolish “special war structures,” meaning special teams fighting the rebels.
“The conditions for a solution to the Kurdish issue ... will be there after reforms are made in the framework of a constitutional solution,” he added.
A permanent peace is likely to be reached in return for wider constitutional rights for the up to 15 million Kurds, who roughly constitute 20 percent of Turkey’s 75 million people.
The third phase would be “normalization,” Karayilan added, referring to permanent peace and an environment of “freedom and equality.”
He said a solution to Turkey’s Kurdish problem would herald the beginning of a “new era” which could even lead to peace for Kurdish populations elsewhere.
Turkey is believed to be home to the largest single community of ethnic Kurds out of a total population of between 25 and 35 million scattered across Iraq, Iran and Syria.


Gazan dies of wounds from Israel border clash: ministry

Updated 24 June 2018
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Gazan dies of wounds from Israel border clash: ministry

  • A Palestinian man shot by Israeli forces two days ago during clashes on the Gaza border died of his wounds early Sunday
  • At least 134 Palestinians have been killed in clashes since mass protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian man shot by Israeli forces two days ago during clashes on the Gaza border died of his wounds early Sunday, the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory said.
“Osama Khalil Abu Khater, 29-years-old, died of wounds to his stomach after being shot by the Israeli enemy east of Khan Yunis the day before yesterday,” ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said.
Palestinian sources said he was shot during a border clash.
At least 134 Palestinians have been killed in clashes since mass protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30.
No Israelis have been killed.
The protests peaked on May 14 when at least 62 Palestinians were killed as thousands approached the heavily guarded border fence on the same day the United States moved its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Israel says its use of live fire is necessary to defend its borders and stop infiltrations. It accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of seeking to use the protests as cover for attacks.