http://www.arabnews.com/news/896416 BEIRUT: A powerful Kurdish party announced plans Wednesday to declare a federal region in northern Syria, a model it hopes can be applied to the entire country. The idea was promptly dismissed by Turkey and also the Syrian government team at UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva. The declaration was expected to be made at the end of a Kurdish conference that began Wednesday in the town of Rmeilan, in Syria’s northern Hassakeh province. The development comes as the Damascus government and Western- and Saudi-backed rebels are holding peace talks with a UN envoy in Geneva on ways to end the devastating civil war, which this week entered its sixth year. The main Syrian Kurdish group, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), have so far been excluded from those talks so as not to anger Turkey, despite Russia’s insistence that they be part of the negotiations. Ankara views the group as a terrorist organization. Nawaf Khalil of the PYD told The Associated Press that his party is not lobbying for a Kurdish region but an all-inclusive area with representation for Turkmen, Arabs and Kurds in northern Syria. Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, making up more than 10 percent of the prewar population of 23 million. They control a border area stretching from the predominantly Kurdish town of Al-Malikiyah in the east, near the Iraqi border, to Afrin in the west, interrupted only by a stretch of territory that the Daesh group controls. Syria’s Kurds have dramatically strengthened their hold on northern Syria during the civil war, carving out territory as they battled to drive out Islamic militants and declaring their own civil administration in three distinct enclaves, or cantons, under their control: Jazira, Kobani and Afrin. Around 200 Kurdish representatives from those three cantons, known collectively as Western Kurdistan, or Rojava, were meeting in Rmeilan Wednesday to discuss the move. A federal region could be a first step toward creating an autonomous region similar to the one Kurds run across the border in Iraq, where their territory is virtually a separate country.