Armed Women Take on IS Militants

Armed Women Take on IS Militants
An Iranian-Kurdish female fighter holds her weapon during a battle with Islamic State militants in Bashiqa, near Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 3, 2016. photo from voanews.com.web photo

A group of Iranian Kurdish women, part of a larger force of about 600 fighters aligned with the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), are battling the terrorists of the Islamic State, which the fighters call by the acronym Daesh, in their stronghold of Mosul.

When insurgents fire mortars at them, the women respond by singing through loudspeakers—something that IS prohibits—along with music. Then they open fire with machine guns.

The Islamic State has imposed tight restrictions on women and took hundreds of them as sex slaves since sweeping through northern Iraq in 2014 and declaring a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, according to this story from voanews.com.

“We wanted to make them angry. To tell Daesh that we are not afraid,” said Mani Nasrallahpour, 21, in the story. She is one of about 200 female peshmerga fighters who left behind their lives in Iran to take on the hard-line Sunni militants, the story says. The PAK group of which they are a part is supported by a U.S.-led coalition.

Armed Women Take on IS Militants
Iranian-Kurdish female fighters hold their weapons during a battle with Islamic State militants in Bashiqa, near Mosul. photo from voanews.com.web photo

The group’s goal is an ambitious one: to create an independent Kurdish nation that would stretch across Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria.

"We fight to protect our soil, whether it is the Kurdistan of Iran or Iraq. It does not matter whether it is Daesh or another group that has occupied our soil," said Nasrallahpour, while holding an AK-47, the story says.

The story goes on to say the existence of the female group of fighters is a reminder of the complexities of Northern Iraq, where the women recently joined Iraqi male Kurdish fighters in driving the Islamic State out of the village of Fadiliya.

The site interviewed Avin Vaysi, who ran into that battle with a heavy machine gun to fight street by street.

"They are afraid of women," she said in the story. "It is true that Daesh is dangerous, but we are not afraid of them."

During the offensive, one female fighter has been killed, the story says. Vaysi, like many of the women, said she was enraged by news reports of the militants abusing women and decided to take matters into her own hands.

Armed Women Take on IS Militants
An Iranian-Kurdish female fighter aims with her weapon during a battle with Islamic State militants in Bashiqa, near Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 3, 2016. photo from voanews.comweb photo

"I saw on television that Daesh is torturing women, and it made my blood boil," Vaysi, 32, said in the story, which says she had a Kurdish flag painted on her cheek. "I decided to go and fight them."

Indeed, because of their enemy's treatment of women, the stakes are a bit higher for the female fighters, The story says that, knowing the atrocities IS has carried out against women, Nasrallahpour and the others have made a pact to never allow themselves to be taken prisoner.

"We always have a bullet ready to use on ourselves in case we are about to be taken prisoner," she said in the story. "We will tear them apart. When they have killed our babies in the womb, why should we show them mercy?"

On their side, the women say they are treated as equals by their male comrades.

"We are 100 percent equals. We are proud of the women fighters," said Hajir Bahmani, 27, a male commander.

The women went through six weeks of training, including target practice and sniper training.

“Along with defending our Kurdish land, we are also fighting for women’s rights. Like a man, I can fight in the mountains and the desert,” Nasrallahpour said in the story. “Here the men cook for us.”