Kurds waving a Kurdish flag and image of Abdullah Ocalan in Aleppo
16 March 2016
Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria are expected to declare a federal system on Wednesday (today), a Syrian Kurdish official said, taking matters into their own hands after being excluded so far from political talks to resolve the Syrian war.
The step that will combine three Kurdish-led autonomous areas of northern Syrian into a federal system will be sure to alarm neighbouring Turkey, which fears growing Kurdish sway in Syria is fueling separatism among its own Kurdish minority.
The announcement would mean "widening the framework of self-administration which the Kurds and others have formed," said Idris Nassan, an official in the foreign affairs directorate of Kobani, one of three autonomous areas set up by Kurdish groups two years ago.
He told Reuters the areas would be named the Federation of northern Syria, and represent all ethnic groups living there.
The Syrian Kurdish PYD party has been left out of peace talks underway in Geneva, in line with the wishes of Turkey, which sees it as an extension of the PKK group that is waging an insurgency in southeastern Turkey.
The powerful Syrian Kurdish YPG militia has captured large areas of northeastern Syria from Islamic State, and has been the most effective partner on the ground for a U.S.-led air campaign against the jihadists.
Syrian Kurds effectively control an uninterrupted stretch of 400 km (250 miles) along the Syrian-Turkish border from the frontier with Iraq to the Euphrates river. They also control a separate section of the northwestern border in the Afrin area.
Syria's government in Damascus on Saturday ruled out the idea of a federal model for the country. Damascus ally Russia has said federalism could be a possible model for Syria.
(Reporting by John Davison/Tom Perry/Dominic Evans; Editing by Toby Chopra/Dominic Evans)