Kurdish fighters on Sunday freed eight Turkish troops in northern Iraq two weeks after capturing them in an ambush inside Turkey, a PKK spokesman said. The release came before Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets President Bush on Monday in Washington to discuss a possible offensive against the Kurdish group.
A spokesman for the group holding the soldiers, the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, told The Associated Press that the eight were freed Sunday morning near the border between Turkey and the Kurdish region in Iraq's north. "The eight were freed this morning at 7:30 and handed over to Iraqi Kurdish officials in the mountains," said Abdul-Rahman Chadarchi, a PKK spokesman.
An Iraqi Kurdish official conveyed the troops were in Irbil, a northern Iraqi city that serves as the capital of the local Kurdish administration. They were expected to hold a news conference at Irbil's airport before departing for Turkey later Sunday, he said.
"They are in good health condition, happy and were humanely treated," the official told AP in a phone interview.