In mid 2012 the Syrian government withdrew its security forces from the Kurdish northern regions of Syria in order to fight against growing Arab rebel groups elsewhere in the country. The Kurds in these regions quickly formed militia’s and took control of the regions.

By January of 2014 the militia’s declared three autonomous regions that would operate within the current Syrian country. These militias have since won major victories over the so-called Islamic State and now control nearly 26,000 sq km in northern Syria.

The Kurds now say they will announce that they will be expanding “the framework of self-administration that the Kurds and others have formed“. They will be creating a single federal zone that will unify the three separate regions with democratic elections. The zone will also include areas recently captured from the so-called Islamic State which include Arabs and Turkmen.

It has been stressed that they are not seeking independence from Syria, simply that they want local democratic elections for the autonomous region they occupy. The governments of Turkey and Syria have both spoken out against the plan already, saying that the must preserve Syria in its entirety. A Syrian official said that any attempt to create a division in the Syrian people “will be a total failure“.

The Kurds in Syria have long faced political suppression and been denied basic rights by the Arab controlled Syrian government. Before the onset of war the Kurds made up around 8% of the population in Syria, or 2 million individuals. They have roughly 14.5 million in Turkey, 5 million in Iran and up to 6 million in Iraq. In total they may have a population of 28 million people fractured between various other states.