Kurdish leaders in Syria have accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of ethnic cleansing. President of the Kurdistan National Assembly Sherkoh Abbas accused Assad of attempting to separate Syrian and Iraqi Kurds by moving Arab families into Kurdish areas. Assad also portrayed Kurds as having connections to Israel and the United States, he said.
Problems between Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government date back as far as 1960, when the government ruled that Kurds were not allowed to graze livestock, leading to massive poverty. Since then Syrian Kurds have often been subject to land confiscation and loss of citizenship. 85 Kurds were killed and thousands thrown in jail in 2004 after a failed uprising.