QAMISHLI, Syria — Syria’s Kurds are poised to hold their first local elections, a move that has annoyed Damascus and Ankara and comes days before a controversial independence referendum by Iraq’s Kurds.
Kurds made up around 15 per cent of Syria’s pre-war population and were long oppressed by the central government.
But they largely stayed out of the uprising that erupted in March 2011, instead quietly building local control in Kurdish-majority areas after the withdrawal of most government troops.
They have become the key ground force in Syria partnering with the US-led coalition against Daesh.
In March 2016, the Kurds declared three semi-autonomous regions in the areas under their control, part of their push towards the federal system they have advocated in Syria.