Turkish Military Confirms Iraq Withdrawal

Turkey's military on Friday confirmed that all its forces have withdrawn from northern Iraq, where they crossed the border last week in pursuit of Kurdish separatist rebels.

The military said it had completed its goals against militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a group fighting for the autonomy of predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey.

The confirmation followed an earlier announcement from Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari that regional authorities were reporting Turkish troops were leaving.

The pull-back comes a day after Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Turkish leaders during a visit in Ankara that they should end the offensive as soon as possible. In Washington, President Bush made a similar point Thursday, saying Turkey needed to move quickly and get out.

Although the U.S. considers the PKK a terrorist organization, it fears that a prolonged campaign could spread regional instability. The PKK has frequently used sanctuaries inside northern Iraq to launch attacks against Turkish soil.

Turkey's military said it killed 237 rebels in the eight-day ground offensive and lost 24 of its soldiers in the fighting. The PKK said it has killed more than 100 Turkish troops since the offensive began but has given no figure for its own casualties.

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