BEIRUT – Syrian Kurdish officials say thousands are voting in the predominantly Kurdish regions in northern Syria to elect heads of local communities as part of the Kurds' attempts to move closer to a federal system within Syria.
The vote comes days before Iraqi Kurds are to vote on their independence from Baghdad but the two elections are not related.
Damascus hasn't commented on the Syrian Kurdish vote so far.
The Kurdish-run Hawar news agency says 12,421 candidates are running to head 3,732 neighborhood and village communities or "communes."
Kurdish official Idriss Naasan says Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Christians are also voting.
The second phase of the vote will be held in November to elect local councils and a regional parliament, known as People's Democratic Council, will be elected on Jan. 19.