by Voice of Russia
Syrian Kurds declared an autonomous provincial government in the country’s northern territory on Tuesday, according to reports. This step comes ahead of Geneva 2 peace conference, where they have no presentation.
The territory will have its own president and ministers of foreign affairs, defense, justice, and education, Reuters reports citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The British monitoring group said that elections will be held in four months.
Kurds have used the confusion and chaos of the Syrian civil war as an opportunity to assert more control over the northeastern area of the country.
The future role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a "red line" for the government delegation in peace talks, the foreign minister said Tuesday on the eve of their opening.
"The issues of the president and the regime are red lines for us and for the Syrian people," the official SANA news agency quoted Walid Muallem as saying shortly before his delegation arrived in the Swiss city of Montreux for the talks.
"Nobody can touch the presidency."
Muallem promised that the government delegation would make every effort to ensure the peace conference bore fruit.
"We are committed to working for the success of this conference so that it is the first step on the road to a dialogue between Syrians on Syrian soil," he said.
But he hit out at the UN organisers of the peace conference for their failure to invite a separate delegation from the government-tolerated opposition in Damascus which opposes the armed rebellion supported by the exiled National Coalition.
"The UN gave in to Western pressure by refusing to invite the national opposition," he charged.
The regime-tolerated National Coordination Body for Democratic Change said on Monday that it had turned down an invitation from the National Coalition to attend the peace talks as part of a single delegation.
It said its leader Hassan Abdel Azim had been invited to take part on Sunday by Coalition president Ahmad Jarba but had refused.
Absence of Iran at Geneva-2 will not help in fighting terrorism in Muslim world - Lavrov
The absence of Iran in the Geneva-2 peaceful conference on Syria will not contribute to fighting terrorism in the Muslim world, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, the Voice of Russia correspondent Artyom Kobzev reports.
"The absence of Iran will not contribute to the efforts on ensuring the unity of the Muslim world, including in fighting terrorism, which is a threat to all of us and all Muslims as well," Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday.
Moscow "persistently warns of the unacceptability of the split in the Muslim world, which will have catastrophic consequences," Lavrov said.
"But countries wishing to not just carry out this split but to deepen it constantly exist," he said.
The withdrawal of invitations for Iran to participate in the Geneva-2 international conference "is not a catastrophe," Lavrov said.
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_22/Syrian-Kurds-declare-autonomy-ahead-of-Geneva-2-4102/