DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Syrians in rebel-held areas along the northern border with Turkey said they've elected their own councilors to govern their area.
World leaders sounded the alarm over the Syrian civil war during the U.N. General Assembly this week. The United Nations estimates at least 18,000 people have died in the conflict in Syria since March 2011.
The Turkish government is facing pressure from France to set up liberation zones along the Turkish border, The Guardian newspaper in London reports. But a local engineer told the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN that Syrians were taking independent action in rebel-held towns.
"We are running things ourselves now," the engineer, who gave his name only as Ahmed, told IRIN by telephone. "It was difficult at first but now it's normal."
Another activist, giving his name as Mohammed Sayid, told IRIN some villages along the border have elected councilors to serve as regional leaders.
Heads of states told the General Assembly that Syrian President Bashar Assad has lost his legitimacy to lead. The federally funded U.S. Institute of Peace said transition was under way in "liberated" areas of Syria. A conference is scheduled Oct. 4, USIP said, to discuss the strategies for managing a post-Assad Syria.