ARBIL, Iraq - Ethnic Kurds declared an interim administration in northeastern Syria on Tuesday, further solidifying their geographic and political presence after driving out Islamist rebels.
Long oppressed under Syrian President Bashar Assad and his father before him, Kurds view the civil war as an opportunity to gain more autonomy - like their ethnic kin in neighboring Iraq.
Control over Syria's northeast, where Kurds predominate, had in recent months swung back and forth between them and mainly Arab Islamist rebels, who strongly oppose what they suspect are Kurdish plans to secede.
But a Kurdish militia prevailed earlier this month, and at a meeting held in the Syrian city of Qamishlo on Tuesday, a committee of Kurdish and other groups said it was now time to set up an administrative body to run the region.
"In light of the current circumstances which Syria is going through, and in order to fill an administrative vacuum ... we see is as utmost necessity to reach a transitional, pluralistic, democratic administration," said a statement sent to Reuters.
The statement said they were committed to the unity of Syria and asked world powers and neighboring countries to back the new administration, which they said had won the support of different political groups and minorities in the area.