The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaeda affiliate, has established two female brigades to oversee security inspections of female passersby in the Syrian city of Raqqah, the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Sunday.
The two battalions were formed in response to suspicions that wanted male activists were disguising themselves as women to bypass checkpoints.
“Activists who oppose the group are dressing in burkas like women to pass unharmed at checkpoints. Establishing female battalions was the only solution (for the ISIS) to stop this. The organization’s (men) cannot search women but now that these battalions have been established, it can,” opposition leader Ibrahim Moslem told the daily.
The women recruited to the battalions, dubbed “Al-Khansaa” and “Umm al-Rayan,” according to opposition websites, must be between the ages of 18 and 25, single, and available for full-time work. The women receive a salary of 25,000 Syrian liras, equivalent to a little under $200, and must work exclusively for the organization.
ISIL is allegedly behind most of the attacks that have been taking place in Iraq. It is also playing a more active military role alongside other predominantly Sunni rebels in the fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, and its members have carried out attacks against Syrians near the porous border inside Iraq.
Moderate and Islamist opposition fighters have been battling ISIL since early January, after accusing the group of a spate of abuses against civilians and rebels.
AP and AFP contributed to this report.