Syria Kurds adopt constitution for autonomous federal region

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Syria’s Kurds have adopted a draft constitution for the autonomous federal region they unilaterally declared in the country’s northeast and expect to hold elections in the coming months.

The charter – known as the “social contract” – was approved on Thursday by the Kurdish constituent assembly, a statement said.

The vote in the Hasakeh province town of Rmeilan was held after a three-day meeting of the 165 representatives of the cantons of Afrin, Kobane and Jazire in north and northeast Syria.

In March, Syria’s Kurds declared a federal region in areas under their control along the Turkish border in a move rejected by the government of President Bashar al-Assad and his opponents.

The self-proclaimed “federal system” is intended to centralise governance in the three Kurdish cantons where an autonomous administration was declared in 2012.

Kurds represent about 15 percent of Syria’s population.

Throughout Syria’s nearly six-year war they have tried to avoid confrontation with the regime or non-extremist rebels, focusing instead on building a semi-autonomous region in Kurdish-majority areas.

But they have been backed by the United States in fighting the Islamic State group [IS].

A US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance – the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] – has been battling since November 5 to retake Raqqa, the IS jihadist bastion in Syria and the group’s self-declared capital.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units [YPG], the armed branch of the leading Kurdish Democratic Union Party [PYD] and key component of the SDF, has cleared IS from swathes of territory in those areas.

According to Thursday’s statement, the “social contract” calls for the establishment of a national assembly whose members would be elected every four years.

The charter also considers the Syrian Democratic Forces as the federation’s “armed defence forces”.