Kurds announce creation of autonomous region in Northern Syria
Kurds announce creation of autonomous region in Northern Syria –
Reuters – Syria’s three Kurdish-controlled autonomous regions voted on Thursday to approve the establishment of a federal system in the north of the country, defying warnings from Damascus and neighbouring Turkey against any such unilateral move.
The vote was held at a conference in the town of Rmeilan in northeast Syria. The Syrian government immediately said it had no legal or political impact.
Syria’s Kurds effectively control an uninterrupted 400 km (250 miles) of territory along the Syrian-Turkish border from the Euphrates River to the frontier with Iraq, where Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed autonomy since the early 1990s. They also hold a separate section of the northwestern border in the Afrin area.
Voting on the federal model had been expected on Wednesday but was delayed by one day, in part because of demands from local Arab and Assyrian communities for reassurances that it would not mean separation from Syria, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
Nevertheless, it will be sure to alarm neighbouring Turkey, which fears that growing Kurdish control over parts of northern Syria is fuelling separatism among its own minority Kurds.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said on Wednesday that Syria’s national unity and territorial integrity was fundamental, and any unilateral decisions outside that framework “cannot have validity”.
Nawaf Khalil, an official with the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, told The Associated Press that the announcement was made at a conference being held in the town of Rmeilan in the northeastern province of Hassakeh.
The move was rejected by the Syrian Foreign Ministry describing it as “unconstitutional and worthless.” It warned against any attempt to encroach upon the integrity of Syrian territory.
The Syrian National Coalition, one of the main Syrian opposition groups, also said it rejects such unilateral declarations and warned of any attempt to form autonomous regions that, “confiscate the will of the Syrian people.”
Khalil said participants in the Rmeilan meeting have approved a “democratic federal system for Rojava-Northern Syria.” Rojava is a Kurdish word that refers to three distinct enclaves, or cantons, under Kurdish control in northern Syria: Jazira, Kobani and Afrin.
Khalil said participants who include Turkmen, Arabs, Christian and Kurds in northern Syria said after they approved the draft that they are now preparing a final statement that will be read later Thursday.