Kurds have always had female fighters fighting in their ranks. After the start of the Syrian civil war, however, the Kurdish rebel women distinguished themselves against the jihadists of the Islamic State and managed to form their own battalions.
They first started fighting with the rebel troops and in 2013, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), the women’s division of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), were created. The two military divisions belong to the Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD).
In the battle that the jihadists unleashed in order to occupy Kobani in March 2019, YPJ women fought fierce battles with guns and grenades and specialized in guerrilla warfare. During the Turkish operation “Olive Branch” in March 2018 they fought fierce battles against Kurdish fighters.
These women fighters know that, if captured, they will be raped and killed; therefore they fight knowing that they must succeed in battle or become a suicide warrior to avoid being captured. The YPJ is also thought to be feared by Jihadists, who believe that if a female kills them in battle, it will be a disgrace and dishonor, and will prohibit them from entering paradise.
Thanks to their role in liberating Kobani in Syria, the YPJ captured the attention of true feminists around the world. Additionally, thanks to the YPJ, millions of people around the world have been introduced to the plight of the Kurds in Syria and beyond.
Indeed, the final defeat of the jihadists in their stronghold, Raqqa, was fought with a battle in which the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was led by commander Rogda Filat.