Control of large parts of Syria's north east is now in the hands of the Democratic Union Party - the main Kurdish party in the region.
About 2 million Kurds live in the area, making up 10 per cent of the population. There are also significant Kurdish populations in Turkey and Iraq and more in Iran.
In Syria, the Kurds suffered discrimination and loss of culture under the ruling Baathist party since the 1960s. Many were granted citizenship only last year by President Assad, after the uprising started.
As Assad's stretched security forces left parts of the north east, Kurdish committees have taken more control.
Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid is the first international reporter to travel to the region since the uprising began last March:
(Source: Al Jazeera)