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Syria's Kurds to hold second phase of elections in north

Groups say they do not want to follow contentious example of Kurds of northern Iraq
SDF fighters in northern Syria (AFP)
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Elections organised by the Kurdish-led authorities of northern Syria will be held on 1 December, part of a process leading to the creation of a local parliament by early 2018, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Ibrahim Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish party, said the elections would be for local town and city councils, with more than 30 parties and entities participating.

Northern Syrians held the first phase of elections in September, where voters picked leaders for about 3,700 communes spread across three regions of the north where Kurdish groups have established autonomous rule since 2011, when Syria's civil war erupted.

Elections will culminate in January with the election of an assembly that will act as a parliament for a federal system of government in northern Syria.

The election points to the ambitions of Kurdish groups and their allies that control almost a quarter of Syria, whose stated aim is to secure autonomy as part of a decentralised Syria.

The groups insist they do not want to follow the example of the Kurds of northern Iraq, whose vote on an independence referendum in September prompted Western opposition and fierce resistance from Baghdad, Ankara and Tehran.

Syria's main Kurdish groups hope for a new phase of negotiations that will shore up their autonomy in northern Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, however, is asserting its claim to areas captured by the Syrian Defence Forces (SDF) from the Islamic State (IS) group in more forceful terms.

Earlier this month, a top adviser to Assad said what happened in Iraqi Kurdistan "should be a lesson" to the SDF, adding that she did not think "any government can discuss with any group when it comes to the topic of the country's unity".

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