ARBIL, Iraq, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The first group of Kurdish militants withdrawing from Turkey entered Iraq's Kurdistan region on Tuesday morning.
The PKK fighters started the withdrawal to their stronghold in Iraq after their jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan declared a ceasefire with the Turkish troops.
According to Turkish media reports, about 2,000 militants would start leaving Turkey on Wednesday, traveling through the mountainous border zone to their base in Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq.
Acting PKK leader Murat Karayilan said in April that the entire retreat is expected to take three to four months.
While welcoming a peaceful settlement for the Kurdish issue in Turkey, the Iraqi government on Thursday rejected the presence of the armed fighters on its territories, saying their entry "could undermine the security and stability of Iraq and its neighboring countries."
Ankara had been holding peace negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan since last October. On March 21, Ocalan finally made an announcement of ceasefire and withdrawal, which was positively responded by his militant group.