In the past month, Syrian Kurdish forces have rolled back the self-declared Islamic State terrorist group from its previous strongholds near the Syrian-Turkish border. On the frontline of this battle are thousands of Kurdish female fighters, defending their Kurdish homeland against the ideological extremism of the Sunni terrorist group.
7,000 Kurdish Female Fighters
Formed in 2012 to help the defense of the Kurdish regions of Syria, the Women’s Protection Groups (YPJ) is now comprised of more than 7,000 fighters. These fighters are ordinary women who are inspired to do the extraordinary, and are protecting their families and homelands from the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group.
The women who sign up for the all-female brigade are given equal treatment as the men who sign up for the People’s Protections Units (YPG). Life for YPJ women includes meager food rations, comprising of nothing more than bread, beans and potatoes. Despite these spartan living conditions, the women of the YPJ are proud to be fighters and defenders of the Kurdish homeland.
Fighting on the Frontlines
Despite any preconceived notions, the all-female YPJ units fight alongside the YPG men on the frontlines, and in many cases, may survive battles with less casualties than the male units. One YPJ fighter named Tolveen Van is quoted to have said: “Men! They choose poor cover and [don’t listen] carefully enough to their orders.”
The YPJ women describe killing the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorists to be a reward of gender equality, and are disgusted at the ideological extremism of the fighters at the other end of their guns. “We are not just fighting for feminism, we are fighting mainly to protect our people and our land,” said Tolveen. “But fighting is also part of true equality, and as women we are proud to fight an enemy like [ISIS] — men who like their women as housewives, stuck in the kitchen, cleaning dishes.”
There is a stark difference between the all-female Kurdish fighters and the sexist enemy that the women are fighting against. However, the Kurdish women of the YPJ claim that their fight is about more than the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Said one YPJ member, “When this war is over I am going to train other women elsewhere in military matters. For after the [Islamic State] are gone, there will be other men that women have to fight.”[Read more at Kurdish Daily News]