Assad, oppn condemn Kurdish calls for autonomy
The Syrian government and its opponents have rejected the declaration by Syrian Kurds of creating a federal region in northern Syria. A statement issued by Syria's foreign ministry said the declaration made in Rmeilan in Syria's Hassakeh province is "unconstitutional and worthless". The government warned against such moves, saying it would be seen as an attempt to encroach upon the integrity of Syrian territories.
Kurdish people in Syria
The Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, comprising less than 10% of the country's population. Syrian Kurds have faced routine discrimination and harassment by the Syrian government prior to the onset of the civil war. At the onset of the civil war in 2011, the government granted 200,000 stateless Kurds citizenship in a bid to keep them neutral in the fighting.
Kurdish regions in Syria
A majority of Syria's Kurdish population lives in the country's northern border areas, along the international border with Turkey. Regions with significant Kurdish population include Al-Hasakah, Al-Qamishli, Tell Tamer, Kobanî and Afrin.
Kurds take advantage of the civil war
The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (KNC) signed a cooperation agreement in July 2012 that created the Kurdish Supreme Committee. Popular Protection Units (YPG) were created to control all areas inhabited by a majority Kurdish population. In 2012, when government forces were focused on fighting militants in non-Kurdish areas, Kurdish militia, led by the YPG assumed control of Kurdish areas.
Kurds make gains
On 19 July 2012, the YPG captured the city of Kobane, and the next day captured Amzude and Efrin. By 24 July, the cities of Al-Malikiyah, Ra's al-'Ayn, Al-Darbasiyah and Al-Ma'bada had also come under the control of the YPG.
Kurds declare autonomy in Syria
Syrian Kurds declared an autonomous provincial government in the country's northern territory on the eve of the second round of peace talks scheduled in Geneva. A municipal council would be elected to govern the activities in the region. As per the declaration, the Cizîre Canton of West (Syrian) Kurdistan will have its own president and 22 ministries, including foreign affairs, defense, justice and education.
Turkey fumes at prospect of Kurdish autonomy
Turkey sees the YPG and the PYD as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish-Kurdish rebel group fighting for autonomy in Turkey. A ceasefire between the PKK and Turkish forces ended last year and since then fighting has broken out, killing hundreds. Turkey fears an independent Kurdish state on its southern borders may bolster the PKK's militants within Turkey.
Turkey bombs Kurds in Syria
Turkey has been bombing Kurdish positions in Syria, despite requests from the UN to halt such strikes. In addition, Syrian Kurds have been armed and funded by the US led coalition as well, adding to Turkey's frustration.
Syrian Kurds declare autonomous territory in Syria
Syrian Kurdish parties said that they are planning to declare a new federal system in areas they control in northern Syria. The federal system would also include predominantly Arab and Turkmen areas captured from ISIS militants. The idea was dismissed by Syrian government negotiators at peace talks in Geneva, saying would not accept "unilateral proclaimations." Turkey also vehemently criticized the announcement.
Syria: Will Turkey fuel a Kurdish civil war?
Turkey backed a new Kurdish faction to regain territory from ISIS and stop the YPG from seizing further ground along the Turkish border. The new group called Grandsons of Salahadin captured several villages in the IS-controlled border region between Jarabulus and Azaz following Turkish artillery attacks and missile strikes. They have also threatened attack YPG positions unless it withdraws from its territories.