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PKK to withdraw fighters if Turkey shows goodwill: commander

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) will only pull its fighters out of Turkey once it sees concrete steps from Ankara following the outlawed group's ceasefire, a top rebel commander said

AFP , Saturday 23 Mar 2013
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The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) will only pull its fighters out of Turkey once it sees concrete steps from Ankara following the outlawed group's ceasefire, a top rebel commander said Saturday.

Murat Karayilan made the warning in a video message in which he said the PKK was officially proclaiming the ceasefire which jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan called for on Thursday.

Ocalan also called for PKK fighters to withdraw from Turkish territory, but Karayilan said they would only start doing so once the PKK had seen acts of good faith and commitment to long-lasting peace from the Turkish government.

"For the moment, we are waiting for these conditions to be put in place," he said in the video broadcast by the Kurdish Firat news agency.

The PKK has bases in the Kandil Mountains in the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq to which the fighters would be expected to withdraw.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has responded cautiously to the much-anticipated ceasefire announcement by saying Turkey would end military operations against the PKK if militants halt their attacks.

Erdogan and Ocalan both appear to have staked their political futures on the renewed push to end the 29-year armed campaign for Kurdish self-rule that has killed some 45,000 people, mostly Kurds.

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