Kurdish Women Turning Kobani into a Living 'Hell' for Islamic State


Published 14 October 2014

Fighters for the all-women YPJ militia in northern Syria say they are fighting “a revolution of woman.”

Hundreds of Kurds gathered in a Turkish border town on Tuesday for the funerals of four women killed fighting the Islamic State (I.S.) group, while across the border a Kurdish female militia is playing a leading role in defending Kobani.

Reuters has reported the four coffins that were lowered into the ground in the town of Suruc contained the bodies of fighters from the Kurdish Women's Protection Units (YPJ) – the female brigade of the leftist YPG militia.

“We will avenge … those women who were sold as slaves in the markets of the ISIS (I.S.),” the YPJ said in a statement last Wednesday. 

File 2729

The YPG itself is the armed wing of a Kurdish coalition that has taken defacto control over a sizable chunk of Syria's predominantly Kurdish north.

According to terror research group TRAC, as much as 35 percent of Kurdish troops in Syria's north are women.

Estimates from various other monitors of the number of Kurdish women fighting in Syria run as high as 10,000.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Kurdish defenders in the besieged town of Kobani are being co-led by a 40 year old Kurdish woman from the Afrin region of Aleppo province. “Mayssa Abdo, known by the nom-de-guerre of Narin Afrin, is commanding the YPG in Kobane along with Mahmud Barkhodan,” SOHR's head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP on Sunday.

Abdo herself has stated, “a great resistance is taking place in Kobani.” “We can say that the Kobani resistance is in particular a women’s resistance,” she told Kurdish news outlet, The Rojava Report.

“In order to enter Kobani the ISIS (I.S.) gangs will have to pass over our corpses,” Abdo said.

She explained that I.S. is relying on “heavy weapons” like tanks and artillery fire, but in the slim streets of Kobani YPG/YPJ fighters have fought back “with ambushes and traps, creative defense tactics and a sacrificial determination.”

“We turned the first places they entered – the southern tip of the city and the 48th avenue – into a hell. And from now on Kobani will continue to be hell for them,” she stated.

According to reports circulating among Kurdish media, in Kobani, YPJ troops have become vital in the battle against I.S.

Earlier this month SOHR reported one YPJ fighter killed more than 20 I.S. fighters when she charged their lines and blew herself up. The suicide bombing opened a gap for YPG fighters to momentarily push I.S. back, according to SOHR.

Another woman under Abdo's command only known as Rehana has been claimed to have killed over 100 I.S. fighters, according to the International Business Times.

While the claim cannot be verified, the boast appeared to hit a nerve for I.S. supporters on social media, who promptly circulated graphic images of a mutilated corpse they claimed was Rehana's body.

Other YPJ exploits are regularly posted online in anti-I.S. propaganda.

One YPJ fighter only referred to as “Jazera” that spoke to the New Republic magazine explained why she had joined a militia that boasted martyrdom before surrender.

“I see the Syrian revolution as not only a popular revolution of the people but also as a revolution of woman,” she told the New Republic's Sophie Cousins.

Jazera continued by explaining, “The woman has been suppressed for more than 50,000 years and now we have the possibility of having our own will, our own power and our own personality.”

File 2734