Kurds opt out of first local elections in Syria since 2011

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria is holding its first municipal elections since 2011 amid tensions with the country's self-administered Kurdish region, which is refusing to allow polls.

Polls opened Sunday, with more than 40,000 candidates competing for 18,478 council seats, according to the Ministry of Local Administration.

They are the first municipal elections held since Syria descended into civil war. They are also the broadest elections to be held since 2011 as the government continues to recover territory from the opposition in the ongoing war.

Presidential elections were held in 2014 in limited areas of government control.

The Kurdish-led self-administration is refusing to include north Syria in the elections. Its officials say they want a federalized Syria that respects their autonomy from Damascus.