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First Withdrawing Kurdish Rebels Reach Iraq

The first of an estimated 2,000 Kurdish militants withdrawing from Turkey have arrived in Iraq as part of a peace process aimed at ending one of the world's bloodiest insurgencies.

The group of at least 13 men and women from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, crossed into the Heror area of northern Iraq early Tuesday.

The militants began leaving their bases in Turkey last week, with the full withdrawal expected to take three to four months.

The move is one step in a peace deal between jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and Turkish officials to end 30 years of conflict.

The Iraqi government on Tuesday condemned the entry of PKK fighters into its territory, calling it "a flagrant violation of Iraq's sovereignty and independence."

Baghdad said it will file a complaint about it with the United Nations Security Council.



The PKK fighters are moving at night to avoid tensions, but have refused to disarm because of concerns about an increase in Turkish military activity and the presence of unmanned drones in the region.

In 1999, the last time the PKK withdrew its forces from Turkey, it suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Turkish army.

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