Syrian Kurds defend federal plan, deny autonomy aim

Moscow (AFP) - A Syrian Kurd representative defended Monday the proclamation of a Kurdish federal region in northern Syria, saying it was not meant to be autonomous and only for Kurds.

The Kurds and their allies unilaterally proclaimed a federal region in the war-ravaged country last week, but critics said it would undermine Syria's unity and lead to its partition.

"We don't aspire to create an autonomous zone that is exclusive to the Kurdish nation," said Rodi Osman, director of the Syrian Kurd's representative office in Moscow.

"We envision to install a federal regime, democratic and secular, in which all parts of Syrian society can live and by which they will feel themselves represented," he told reporters.

Both the Damascus government and the main Syrian opposition grouping involved in UN-brokered peace negotiations in Geneva have rejected last Thursday's move by the Kurds.

Washington has said it will not recognise any autonomous regions they set up under their planned federation and says that Syria's future system of government is something to be negotiated in the UN talks.

But it has also said that it will continue to work closely with the Kurds, whom it regards as the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State jihadist group.

Kurds comprise about 15 percent of Syria's population and Kurdish fighters have been backed by Washington in the battle against the Islamic State group.

Moscow has steadily built up its alliance with the Kurds after a fallout with Turkey over the downing of a Russian warplane last November, pushing for the inclusion of the Syrian Kurds in UN peace talks.

The Turkish government considers the Syrian Kurds affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), its nemesis.

The Arab League on Monday rejected Kurdish-led moves for a federal system of government, saying they consist of "separatist calls that harm the unity of Syria."