Mourners gather in Qamishli for the funeral of fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces that were killed in combat against ISIS in Raqqa on September 13. Photo: Delil Souleiman | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The United States explained that it does not support Kurdish independence in the greater region, as the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, also known as Rojava, has elections scheduled for Friday.
US Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs for the State Department spoke to reporters in New York, as thousands of diplomats and foreign officials gather for the annual United Nations General Assembly.
He was asked about the partitioning of Syria and "their aspirations for independence being suppressed in multiple parts of the region."
"And I’ll be very clear that there was uniform consensus in the room that now was not the moment for this referendum, announced and advocated as it has been, to proceed, said Ambassador David Satterfield.
Although the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq is scheduled to hold its own referendum on independence on September 25 — which the United States also opposes — he clarified that the talks were specific to Syrian or western Kurdistan.
"I think there is an international consensus on that point. But frankly, this was a Syria discussion, not a Kurdish-focused discussion," Satterfield said, who was the former Ambassador to Lebanon, and named acting assistant secretary in May.
People's Protection Units (YPG) from the predominately Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) have formed the backbone of the US-led international anti-ISIS coalition's partnered ground forces, retaking approximately 42,000 square-kilometers or 77 percent of the territory previously held by ISIS.
The PYD-led Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria announced in July they had set September 22 (Friday) for communal elections, followed by local elections on November 3, and parliamentary elections on January 1, 2018.
The Kurdish National Council (KNC, ENKS) stated it will boycott the elections, describing them as "illegitimate."
A KNC member told Rudaw in July that the PYD imposed itself on Rojava through "the use of force," referring the name for the four Kurdish cantons in northern Syria.
In December 2016, the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria was declared by the founding members of the self-declared Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. This move was then also rejected by the Syrian government.
The Kurdish authorities also announced they had dropped the word Rojava, a Kurdish word for Syrian Kurdistan, from the official name of the federation of northern Syria.
The Syrian regime has called steps to establish the enclave as "illegal."