Women fighting ISIS

Women Shoot, ISIS Runs

“I have been raped 30 times & it’s not even lunchtime. I can’t go to the toilet, please, bomb us”- Anonymous Yazidi woman

Iraq, 2015. The Peshmerga have fled, the Iraqi Army has given up, the police have run, and Iraqi SF are nowhere to be found. But cowardice such as this was forewarned, besides, the Kurdish people in the northern Iraq and Syria region have a new fighting force; a force much more feared than conventional Iraqi ones- an all women one.

For months now the Islamic State has been under attack from and lived in fear of the YPG or Women’s Protection Unit. The YPJ (Yekîneyên Parastina Jin), an offshoot of the PKK or Kurdistan Worker’s Party is an all-women militia with over 7,000 members from the ages of 18-40. The militia relies solely on the local community for supplies, as they receive no aid from the international community (such as the heroes at the United Nations). They’ve been pivotal in kinetic operations such as the August 2014 rescue of thousands of Yazidi people from inside Sinjar Mountian.

Some in the international as well as journalist community call them a “feminist movement”, but, let’s give credit where credit is due- these women are battle hardened local heroes who deserve respect and admiration from both their peers and the international community. Fed up with watching their loved ones raped, kidnapped into sexual slavery, and butchered these women have decided to take a stand.

It’s ironic; most of us have dealt with the traditional Iraqi security forces, we’ve seen how essentially helpless they are; many of us have seen women downrange hit or beat for interacting the U.S. males. But, here we are, women defending the homeland and their people. While again, not a feminist movement outright, gender roles in the Middle East are changing (out of both times and necessity of filling the void).

Best of all, while these women so willingly fight to the death for their people, ISIS cowers in fear of these women, some of whom have themselves escaped captivity. Why? Simply put, the fighters of the Islamic State believe that should a woman kill them in combat, no paradise awaits them. Their long-standing belief states that should a woman fall them in combat, honors that would be bestowed upon them (should a man be the opponent) are null and void.

What is to become of Iraq and Syria remains uncertain, and will for the foreseeable future. One thing however is certain, there remain those still willing to die for their cause, and to do so would be considered an honor. These women no longer cower in fear from the Islamic State, they’ve risen from the ashes and achieved near superhuman status among their foe. They’ve been kidnapped, raped, and tortured, and they’ve come to punish those responsible.  

About the author: Andrew Farquharson is an Iraq Campaign veteran and an ex-cavalry scout currently living the dream in Newport, Rhode Island as a college student. Aside from writing for 11Bravos his hobbies include mountain climbing, shooting guns and convincing women they should date him. Comments or hate mail can be sent to farqandrew@yahoo.com or, follow him on Instagram @Lord_Farquharson