Kurdish Separatists Have Left Northern Iraq, Returned to Turkey

KOI-SANJAQ, Iraq (AP) -- There's word that Kurdish separatists fighting for autonomy from Turkey have left northern Iraq and returned to their homeland in the past two weeks.

The brother of a rebel leader says members of the group known as PKK have been replaced by Iran-based rebels.

He said the Kurdish rebels were leaving "to ease the burden" on the regional government, which is under pressure from its U.S. supporters, Iraq's central government and Turkey to move against the separatists.

Relations between Iraq and Turkey have grown increasingly strained in recent months over a Turkish threat of a cross-border incursion against the rebels.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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