World News

Jailed Kurdish Rebel Leader to Make "Historic" Announcement

Jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan says he plans on making a "historic" announcement on Thursday, a declaration that is widely expected to include a ceasefire in a three-decades-long insurgency.

Ocalan relayed the message to Kurdish legislators who visited him Monday on his prison island of Imrali. He is also expected to call on fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, to begin retreating from Turkey.

Thursday's announcement coincides with the start of a Kurdish spring festival.

The PKK has been fighting the Turkish state since 1984. The group initially demanded an independent Kurdish state, but later moderated its goals to greater autonomy and cultural rights for Kurds.

The conflict has claimed nearly 40,000 lives. In the last year, violence has returned to the levels of the 1990s, the height of the conflict.

Experts estimate that about 2,500 PKK rebels are based in Turkey, with the rest camped in neighboring northern Iraq.

VOA Exclusive

Kurdish Fighters Celebrate Kobani Victory

Video Kurds Celebrate Kobani Victory

Kurdish fighters, backed by US airstrikes, pushed back Islamic State fighters from the Syrian border town Kobani. This exclusive video shows the destruction of the city, celebrations of the fighters, plus continued firing on IS targets on the outskirts of the town. More