The new battalion of 50 women follow in the footsteps of Kurdish Women’s Protection Units group
Christian women are joining an all-female militia group in Syria to fight Isis – part of a rising number of women choosing to fight the extremist group.
‘The Female Protection Forces of the Land Between Two Rivers’ is a small battalion of about 50 women graduating from its training camp in the north-eastern town of Al-Qahtaniyeh in Syria.
It is made up of Christian women from different backgrounds who want to prove they don’t simply exist in the home.
One of the recruits of the newly formed force is former hairdresser Babylonia, 36, who was encouraged by her husband to take up arms to challenge the traditional ideas of Syrian women being just housekeepers.
She told AFP that she misses her two children, but is “fighting to protect their future”.
Under Isis, women would have a much more “sedentary” role, considered not much use except as homemakers, wives and mothers.
In a recruitment manifesto released in Arabic by one of Isis’ propaganda wings earlier this year, women are encouraged to lead a life led by responsibilities at home, as was their “divinely appointed right”.
The rise of female fighters seeks to oppose such ideas, and to fight the possibility of being fated to lead such a life.
The unit focuses its efforts on protecting majority Christian parts of the Hasakah province.
Christians make up about 10 per cent of the Syrian population, and are persecuted by Isis.
Thousands have been forced from their homes, and in areas seized by the jihadists, Christians have been ordered to either convert or pay a religious levy, or face death.
Thabirta Samir, 24, told AFP: “I used to work for a Syriac cultural association, but now I take pleasure in working in the military field.
“I’m not afraid of the Daesh, and we will be present in the coming battles against the terrorists.”
The creation of the group follows in the more established footsteps of the country’s other main female fighting force, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), a faction of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
According to the AFP news agency, the group recently recaptured the town of Hol, a strategic location for Isis on a key route between Syria and Iraq.The Women’s Protection Units told CNN recently “Isis is afraid of girls”, and more female fighters could be an advantage against the jihadists.
One of their commanders said: “They believe if someone from Daesh [Isis] is killed by a girl, a Kurdish girl, they won’t go to heaven.”
The Female Protection Forces’ first major action was fighting beside the newly created Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters.