RMEILAN(Reuters) — Syria’s Kurdish-controlled northern regions voted to seek autonomy under a federal system on Thursday, angering both the Damascus government and neighboring power Turkey with a move that could complicate new U.N.-backed peace talks.
The vote to unite three Kurdish-controlled provinces appears aimed at creating a self-run entity within Syria, a status that Kurds have enjoyed in neighboring Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The proclamation is nevertheless an open challenge to many of the sides in Syria’s 5-year-old civil war, as well as their international sponsors, who have mainly been battling for control of what they say must remain a unified state and have dismissed any unilateral move toward federalism.
According to the Associated Press, representatives of more than 30 parties came together for a meeting in the town of Rmeilan in Syria’s Hassakeh province.
The two-day forum featured more than 200 delegates, including Arab, Kurdish, Armenian, Turkmen, Chechen, Syriac and many other folks from Northern Syria, Rojava, Shehba region, Aleppo-Minbic areas, the Kurdish Firat News Agency reports.
The forum was held under the slogan “Democratic Federative Syria – the guarantee of co-existence and friendship of peoples.”
The Syrian government and its opponents have rejected a declaration by Syrian Kurds of a federal region in northern Syria.
A statement issued by the Syrian Foreign Ministry says the declaration made in the town of Rmeilan in Syria’s Hassakeh province Thursday is unconstitutional and worthless.
It warned against any attempt to encroach upon the integrity of Syrian territories.