Syrian women saved from Isis by female Kurdish fighters set up their own women-only battalion

The Kurdish-led al-Bab Military Council in northern Syria is welcoming new female recruits who want to help free their hometown from the Islamist militants 

Tuesday 01 November 2016 17:38 GMT
The all-female army fighting against ISIS

Syrian women freed from Isis, following the example of female Kurdish fighters, are taking up arms in order to help in the next fight.

Female residents originally from al-Bab in northern Syria who were living in nearby Manbij when it was liberated have been so inspired by the fighting of the female soldiers in the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) that they have created their own all-female battalion ahead of the battle for their city.

“When Isis invaded al-Bab city, they detained my brother and killed him. I have been criticising the practices of Isis for a long time. I have been arrested and tortured several times at the hands of Isis terrorists,” one new member told local news.

“An Isis female jihadi was responsible for torturing me in a very brutal way. And now I’ve joined the al-Bab Military Council in order to fight those terrorists.”

Manbij town was liberated in August after two years of Isis’ rule by the mostly Kurdish coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following two months of intense fighting.

Local SDF military commanders immediately set about creating a ‘military council’ to plan the next offensive - retaking al-Bab, 30 miles (50 kilometres) away.

Since mid-August both Kurdish-led and Turkish forces have been edging closer to the city of approximately 60,000 people.

“I joined the council with the belief in the necessity of liberating our territory from Isis. The terrorist group has killed or displaced many of our people in al-Bab,” a new recruit called Ahman said.

In Manbij, more than 50 women have joined the local police force to protect their hard-won freedoms, it was reported last month.

Shortly after militants were driven from the city, local news reported Manbij’s women were also organising an all-female council to protect and promote the rights of women and girls in future.

Elsewhere in Kurdish Syria on Tuesday, the administration based in Rojava announced it was newly creating a ‘federal army’ across its three cantons in the north of the country.

Syrian Kurds declared their autonomy after repelling President Bashar al-Assad’s army shortly after the Syrian Civil War broke out in 2011.

The Kurdish resistance movement - long outlawed as a terrorist group in Turkey - is strongly committed to feminist principles: most local administrations have quotas for female politicians and officials, and they have parity with men in the military.

The Syrian Kurdish fighting forces have been some of the most successful in repelling the advance of Isis and other Islamist groups - but with the tide now turning against Isis’ caliphate, Rojava is focusing its attention on consolidating its territory in the face of strong opposition from the governments in both Syria and Turkey.

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