US-Backed Kurdish Forces Kill Eight Protesters in Northern Syria

Scores of tribal protesters wounded in crackdown

US-backed Kurdish forces attacked protesters in the Syrian city of Manbij with live ammunition. The attacks came as Arab tribesmen protested the continued Kurdish rule out of a city that is overwhelmingly Arab.

At least eight protesters were reported killed in the attacks, and scores of others were wounded. The Kurdish leadership responded by imposing a curfew across the city and adding troops to checkpoints around it.

Manbij had been part of the ISIS caliphate before being taken by US and Kurdish forces. The US emphasized the the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) would give Arab groups substantial power in the area, though protesters say this is not the case.

This has been a problem in several areas around former ISIS territory, where Kurdish forces ended up  dominating mostly Arab territory and trying to steer them into being part of de facto Kurdish territory. This has led to claims of bias in those areas.

The US has downplayed this, and the Kurds have denied anything wrong is happening. The Turkish government, however, has hyped the situation up as a way to try to get support for its various Arab rebel allied factions in northern Syria, and to try to drum up a pretext to further crack down on the Kurds.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.