Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria have declared a federal region in the north, according to officials cited by AFP and a Reuters witness.

Idris Nassan, an official in the foreign affairs directorate of Kobani, said on Wednesday that the Kurdish-controlled areas will reportedly be named the Federation of Northern Syria, and will represent all ethnic groups living there.

Speaking to RT Arabic, Nassan said that the proposal of federation has existed since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

“Syria’s Kurds have a long history of opposition and a long history of struggle for the legitimate rights of their people in this country,” Nassan said, explaining that the nationalist struggle has evolved into a more “developed” form of fighting for equal rights in general.

The newly established system is expected to replace the autonomous cantons in Syria Kurdistan (Rojava).

The move comes after the Syrian Kurdish PYD party’s exclusion from political talks in Geneva aimed at ending the Syrian crisis.

The exclusion is in line with the wishes of Turkey, which sees the party as an offshoot of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara is currently battling in southeastern Turkey, northern Syria, and Iraq.

However, Moscow has strongly insisted that the Kurds be invited to upcoming peace talks, suggesting that leaving them out could endanger Syria’s territorial integrity. Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, has also said the Syrian Kurds deserve a spot at the negotiating table in Geneva.

Syrian Kurds effectively control a stretch of 400 kilometers (250 miles) along the Syria-Turkey border, from the frontier with Iraq to the Euphrates River. They also control a section of the northwestern border in the Afrin area.

The federation declaration comes as Turkey continues its crackdown on the PKK in Syria, northern Iraq, and southeast Turkey. Fighting has been taking place since July 2015, when Ankara broke a two-year ceasefire.

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