A Kurdish political party is set to declare an autonomous federal system in the area of northern Syria known as Rojava, which is largely under Kurdish administration.
The announcement is expected Wednesday following a press conference in Rmeilan by the Movement for a Democratic Society, Tevgera Civaka Demokratîk (TEV-DEM), a political coalition governing the autonomous areas.
The federal system would give the Kurds greater control over Rojava by consolidating its three cantons – Cizîrê, Kobanê and Efrîn – which would be named the Democratic Federal System for Rojava – Northern Syria.
Similar to Iraqi Kurdistan, the federal region would be multi-ethnic, Nawaf Khalil of the PYD told the Associated Press. TEV-DEM is comprised of Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, Kurdish and Turkmen from Muslim, Christian and Yazidi religious groups, according to the group.
The move comes on the 28th anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s chemical attack on Kurds in Halabja and just one day after the fifth anniversary of the start of the Syrian Civil War.
Syria’s Kurdish groups are seen as one of the strongest partners of the U.S.-backed coalition against the Islamic State group but have been excluded from peace talks, including the latest round that began Monday in Geneva.
Turkey, which opposes Kurdish autonomy, said the declaration has “no validity.”
“Syria’s national unity and territorial integrity is the basis [of Syria],” Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying. Ankara considers the PYD to be an extension of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a years-long insurgency against the Turkish government.
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not comment on the expected declaration.
Tensions in Qamilshi
The de facto Rojava capital Qamilshi was tense Wednesday afternoon as the Asayish security services of the autonomous area took positions around buildings in the Assad government-held enclave in the city.
The city’s market was closed and there is a curfew for private cars in place.
Asayish launched four rocket propelled grenades at the city’s central security center“ following the provocation by the Syrian regime forces,” the Kurdish news agency ANHA reported.
Asayish arrested up to 80 pro-Assad militia members.
One other Assad government-controlled enclave exists in the canton around the town of Al Hasakah.
Photos of Qamişlo right now as areas controlled by regime have been surrounded by Asayîş of Rojava. pic.twitter.com/pww0U1zsBG
— Dr Partizan (@Dr_Partizan) March 16, 2016
Syrian #Kurds set to announce federal system in northern #Syria; #Turkey says unilateral actions have no validity https://t.co/zH49tFDAmH
— Humeyra Pamuk (@humeyra_pamuk) March 16, 2016
Turkey: Syrian Kurds’ unilateral act for federal system to have no ‘validity’ https://t.co/46tJwZPCT7 pic.twitter.com/vyls8WbfPX
— Hürriyet Daily News (@HDNER) March 16, 2016
Main image: Convention for establishing ‘Democratic Federal Syria’ get underway in Rmeilan. Image: AHNA