DAMASCUS (Dispatches) -- At least eight people were killed and scores injured when U.S.-backed Kurdish militants fired live rounds to disperse Arab tribal protests against their rule in the Syrian city of Manbij, according to security and medical sources and residents.
The unrest was the bloodiest to take place in Manbij since the U.S.-backed SDF mercenaries, led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), occupied it five years ago.
SDF officials imposed a curfew on the city and reinforced checkpoints around its main routes after many shops went on a general strike.
The protests took a violent turn when hundreds of demonstrators marched near checkpoints around the city a day after one civilian was killed in protests.
Resentment against SDF rule has grown in northern and eastern Syria among the majority Arab population, residents and tribal elders said, with many objecting to the compulsory conscription of young men and discrimination in top leadership ranks.
Another point of contention has been the thousands of Arabs detained in SDF jails.
There were attempts to mediate with local tribal leaders to calm the unrest.
Kurdish militants practically operate as the proxies of the U.S. military in Syria, controlling oil-rich territories in the northeast.
Last week, U.S. media reports said the Biden administration had not to renew a waiver that allowed a politically connected American oil company to operate in northeastern Syria and loot energy resources in the Arab country.
decision told the Associated Press that permissions given to Delta Crescent Energy (DCE) in April 2020, months after former president Donald Trump announced that he wanted to keep some U.S. troops in the region to maintain control of oil profits, would not be extended.
The company however said it had not received official notice from the U.S. Treasury Department indicating that its waiver would not be renewed.
The U.S. military has stationed forces and equipment in northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the troops deployment were aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.
Damascus, however, says the deployment is meant to plunder the country’s resources.
Syrian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Bassam Tomeh said in March that the U.S. and its proxies were looting oil reserves, revealing that Washington controlled 90 percent of crude reserves in the oil-rich northeast.
The U.S. first confirmed its looting of Syrian oil during a Senate hearing exchange between South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and former secretary of state Mike Pompeo in July last year.
On July 30 and during his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo confirmed for the first time that an American oil company would begin work in northeastern Syria, which is controlled by Kurdish militants.