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Syria's Kurds to hold historic vote in"message" to Assad


BEIRUT Kurdish-led regions of northern Syria will hold elections on Friday, a historic expression of free will and a message to President Bashar al-Assad as he seeks to reassert control over the whole country, a senior Syrian Kurdish politician said. As Kurds in neighbouring Iraq prepare to vote on secession from Baghdad, Hadiya Yousef told Reuters that Assad's aim to take back all of Syria could lead to its partition, though Syria's Kurds insist that independence is not their aim. The three-phase vote set to begin on Friday is part of a plan mapped out by Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies to set up a federal system of government that will shore up the autonomy they have enjoyed in the north since 2011, when Syria's civil war broke out. The political structures expected to emerge from the process are inspired by the ideas of Abdullah Ocalan, the head of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who is in jail in Turkey for leading a three-decade insurgency. Turkey views Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria as a threat to its national security. (Reuters)