Kurdish Women Take Up Arms Against ISIS

Kurdish Women Take Up Arms Against ISIS

Associated Press:  SURUC, Turkey – Just over a year ago, Afshin Kobani was a teacher. Now, the Kurdish Syrian woman has traded the classroom for the front lines in the battle for Kobani, a town besieged by fighters from the Islamic State extremist group.

The 28-year-old Kurdish fighter, who uses a nom de guerre, said she decided to join the fight in her hometown when she saw IS advances in Syria.

“I lost many friends to this, and I decided there was a need to join up,” said Kobani, who declined to reveal her birth name. “This is our land – our own – and if we don’t do it, who else will?”

Perched on the other side of the Turkish border, the Syrian town of Kobani has been under an intense assault by IS for more than a month. The town – surrounded on the east, south and west by IS – is being defended by Kurdish forces in Syria.

Among those fighters are thousands of women, an unusual phenomenon in the Muslim world in which warfare is often associated with manhood.

In April, Kurdish fighters created all-female combat units that have grown to include more than 10,000 women. These female fighters have played a major role in battles against IS, said Nasser Haj Mansour, a defense official in Syria’s Kurdish region.

The Kurdish women now find themselves battling militants preaching an extreme form of Islam dictating that women only leave the house if absolutely necessary. Earlier this month the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors events in Syria, reported IS militants beheaded nine Kurdish fighters, including three women, captured in clashes near the Turkish border.

After more than a year of fighting, Kobani has risen through the ranks to become a commander of a mixed-gender unit. “We are just the same as men; there’s no difference,” she said. “We can do any type of job, including armed mobilization.”

There is nothing new about Kurdish women fighters. They have fought alongside men for years in a guerrilla war against Turkey, seeking an independent Kurdistan which would encompass parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The campaign for Kurdish independence has been pursued mainly by leftist militant groups that championed gender equality, such as the Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey.

Suicide bombings have long been part of the Kurdish women fighters’ battleground repertoire.

Early this month, Deilar Kanj Khamis, better known by her military name Arin Mirkan, blew herself up outside Kobani, killing 10 IS fighters, according to Kurdish forces. Haj Mansour, the Kurdish defense official, recounted that Kurdish fighters were forced to withdraw from a strategic hill south of the besieged town. Khamis stayed behind, attacking IS fighters with gunfire and grenades as they moved in. Surrounded, she detonated explosives strapped to her body. The Kurds then recaptured the position — but lost it again on Wednesday.

In Kobani, Sheikh Ahmad Hamo’s daughter Rukan signed up for the fight for Kurdish independence at the age of 18, and was quickly sent to Iraqi Kurdistan, in Iraq’s north. That was eight years ago. For the first six years, she didn’t contact her parents or her nine siblings. Her mother, Salwa Moussa, traveled to northern Iraq in March last year in the vain hope of seeing her daughter.

Five months after that, she phoned home. “When she called, she had a mountain accent. Her mother didn’t recognize her,” said Hamo. “When we talked to her, we were happy, but we were also crying.”

Rukan Hamo’s 23-year-old brother Ferman was killed fighting in Kobani this month. The sister didn’t make it to the brother’s funeral. Her parents don’t know when, or if, they will see her again.

In the dust-blown cemetery of the Turkish border town of Suruc, a corner has been laid out for the casualties among Syrian Kurds fighting in Kobani. Of more than 30 dead, 10 are women.

“It’s not strange that women are fighting,” said Wahida Kushta, an elderly woman who recently helped prepare the body of a young female fighter, 20-year-old Hanim Dabaan, for burial. “There is no difference between a lion and a lioness.”



Internet Rumor:  Rehana, The Famous Female Kurdish Fighter Responsible for 100 ISIS Deaths, Has Been Beheaded

‘Rehana is alive and well… ISIS fanatics have NOT beheaded her’: Poster girl for Kurdish freedom fighters escaped Kobane hellhole, friends tell MailOnline 

The female Kurdish fighter who became a poster girl for the Kobane resistance before allegedly being beheaded by Islamic State militants is actually alive and well, it was claimed today.

The woman, known by the pseudonym Rehana, was celebrated as a symbol of hope for the besieged Syrian border city after an image of her making a peace sign was retweeted over 5,000 times.

That picture was followed days later by a gruesome photograph of an ISIS terrorist holding the severed head of a young woman, sparking rumours that Rehana had been savagely murdered.

But now friends of Rehana have told MailOnline that the dead woman in the photograph is in fact a different Kurdish resistance fighter, adding that Rehana managed to escape Kobane during intense fighting there last week and is now believed to be living in southern Turkey.

 Kurdish women

Brave: Thousands of Syrian Kurdish women are battling the Islamic State in Syria, many of them in Kobane

A female Kurdish fighter takes up a position during combat skills training before being deployed to fight ISIS.

Safe: The Kurdish fighter Rehana – who became a poster girl for the Kobane resistance before allegedly being beheaded by Islamic State militants – is actually alive and well, her friends claimed today.

A huge cloud of smoke is seen following an American airstrike in the Syrian town of Kobane this morning

Speaking of ISIS’ sickening propaganda photograph, a journalist who was based in Kobane as recently as last week said the dead woman is not Rehana but another Kurdish resistance fighter.

‘She is my friend and I confirm that she is alive. And the picture of beheaded female fighter is not Rehana’s picture,’ he told MailOnline, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He went on to say that he saw Rehana leave Kobane during intense fighting there last week, shortly before he was forced to do the same thing.

Although he lost temporarily lost contact with Rehana as they made their separate journeys over the nearby Turkish border, the journalist said he has been informed by friends that she is living as a refugee in Turkey, most likely in the southern Şanliurfa Province.

‘She is in Turkey. I will try to gain her number because I lost the connection with her. She evacuated Kobane and I stayed in Kobane. At the beginning of the last clashes Rehana left Kobane,’ he said.

MailOnline also spoke to another friend of Rehana’s who confirmed the dead woman in the sickening ISIS photograph was not Rehana, who she described as ‘the daughter of a martyr’.

‘The facial features [of the head in the ISIS photo] are not hers,’ she said, refusing to give her name.

However the friend claimed she was not with Rehana, had not seen her since the time the photograph emerged, and no longer had any way of contacting her.

‘I can give news on her, but I don’t want to talk until I get someone’s advice… A person in Kobane has refuted this news [that she is dead], and I’m going to speak to him again tomorrow,’ the friend said.

‘Everyone’s asking about her, using her. And I don’t want to talk about her,’ she went on to say.

The friends’ claims that Rehana is still alive was reinforced by others who says they know Rehana and have spoken to her in recent days.

Among those claiming to have communicated with Rehana is the Syrian/Kurdish journalist Rashad Abdel Qader.

Qader said rumours that she had singlehandedly killed 100 ISIS fighters inside Kobane were untrue, but claimed she was still ‘fighting fiercely’.

The suggestion Rehana may still be alive was first raised by the Swedish freelance journalist Carl Drott, who said he had met her during a ceremony in which the Kurdish YPJ, or Women’s Defense Unit, was first set up in Kobane.

He said the dead woman in the ISIS photograph may initially look like Rehana, but on closer inspection her facial features and hair style and colour betrayed subtle differences.

He also said that as Rehana had left a law degree in Aleppo to fight join the fight in her hometown Kobane, she hadn’t received the level of training required to become a full member of the YPJ and so worked as a reservist, providing support to those on the frontline.

Such claims might it highly unlikely she would have been able to singlehandedly kill 100 ISIS fighters, as per the rumours that spread when the photograph of her making the peace sign first emerged.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2810780/Rehana-alive-ISIS-fanatics-NOT-beheaded-Poster-girl-Kurdish-freedom-fighters-escaped-Kobane-hellhole-friends-tell-MailOnline.html#ixzz3HVd5BIpb



Mystery Surrounds Identity & Livelihood of Kurdish Heroine Warrior Who Neutralized 100+ Islamic State Fighters

The suggestion Rehana may still be alive was first raised by the Swedish freelance journalist Carl Drott, who said he had met her during a ceremony in which the Kurdish YPJ, or Women’s Defense Unit, was first set up in Kobane.

He said the dead woman in the ISIS photograph may initially look like Rehana, but on closer inspection her facial features and hair style and colour betrayed subtle differences.

He also said that as Rehana had left a law degree in Aleppo to fight join the fight in her hometown Kobane, she hadn’t received the level of training required to become a full member of the YPJ and so worked as a reservist, providing support to those on the frontline.



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