Ankara: 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.
"As part of ongoing preparations, the withdrawal will begin on May 8, 2013," Murat Karayilan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK), was quoted as saying by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency.
"The withdrawal is planned in phases ... and is aimed to be finalised as soon as possible."
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.
The announcement comes after the PKK`s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan ordered on March 21 a historic ceasefire following clandestine negotiations with the Turkish secret service aimed at 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.