The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) announced a federal region in the areas controlled by them in northern part of the country, an official of the party reportedly said Thursday.
The party declared its decision at a Kurdish conference in the town of Rmeilan in Hassakeh province, the Associated Press reported. The federal zone, which consists of three Kurdish-dominated areas, will be called "Rojava - northern Syria." The three areas are Jazira, Kobani and Afrin.
The conference was attended by 150 delegates from Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian and other parties, according to i24news. "A federal state for ruling all of Syria is the best way to protect Syria from being divided up, because there is major distrust among the different sides," PYD media official Ibrahim Ibrahim said.
Delegates proposed "a democratic federation as the only way to guarantee the rights of all people... We will decide the borders for these areas and their prerogatives," i24news cited a draft obtained by Agence France-Presse.
A federal region would "preserve national unity and prevent Syria from breaking up along sectarian lines," AP quoted Kurdish official Ahmad Araj as saying Wednesday. "After all the blood that has been spilled, Syrians will not accept anything less than decentralisation," he said.
The move has been criticised by President Bashar Assad-led Syrian government and the opposition groups, which fear Kurdish-led federal system might lead to partition of the country. Turkey, which considers the PYD a terrorist organisation, has also objected to the decision.
The United States would oppose the declarations of federal regions until a political resolution is reached in Syria, AFP quoted U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner as saying. If the resolution allows formation of federal system, the U.S. would not object, he said.
"We're focused on advancing a negotiated political transition toward an inclusive government that is capable of serving the interests of all the Syrian people. We've also been very clear that we're committed to the unity and territorial integrity of Syria," Toner added.
The Kurdish party's announcement came amid United Nations-led peace talks being held in Geneva to end the five-year-long civil war, in which thousands have reportedly been killed and millions have been displaced. The PYD has not been invited for the talks.