Seeking to protect others from enslavement and persecution at the hands of the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorists, a group of Yezidi women in Iraqi Kurdistan have taken up arms as part of a special Kurdish Peshmerga unit called the “Sun Girls” — a reference to the Yezidi sun disk, a symbol that adorns the Kurdish flag.
Formed by a Yezidi Singer
Once upon a time, Yezidi-Kurd Xate Shingali was a folk singer, renowned for her music. After the Yezidi community was forced to flee from their homes in the Sinjar mountains in August 2014, Xate decided that something had to be done, so she put down her tenbûr (a Kurdish traditional instrument) and picked up a gun.
To date, Xate has recruited over 400 Yezidi women, almost all of whom were displaced by the Islamic State. Some of the women who have signed up for Xate’s all-female unit are women who have been freed from slavery or captivity in the past year.
17-year old Jane Faras is one of the group’s youngest recruits. Says Faras,
My father was so happy when I had told him I had joined this [unit]. Before I was scared, now I cannot be scared of them. Any second they tell us to fight ISIS I am ready.
Trained by Kurdish Peshmerga
Xate Shingali was granted special permission to form the Sun Girls by the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani. Since July, the unit has been receiving training from Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers. Says Xate,
We have had only basic training and we need more. But we are ready to fight ISIS anytime.
The Yezidi-majority town of Shingal was overrun by ISIS in August 2014, and more than 8,000 Yezidi Kurds were captured. While over 2,000 Yezidi women have been freed, there are still thousands of women who are living in captivity.[Read More at Daily Mail]