A former Syrian army officer has become the first high-ranking female commander of a combat unit among rebel forces fighting to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Amira al-Aarour, 30, the daughter of a former military security general, has been appointed deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) brigade in Aleppo, Al-Arabiya reported on Sunday.
A short video accompanying the report showed Aarour, with her hair covered by a traditional headdress, leading a gathering of burly rebel warriors.
Aarour said that as a child she would accompany her father to training bases where, among other things, she learned how to shoot.
Aleppo, considered a hub of Syrian commerce, has seen some of the heaviest fighting between the FSA and the Syrian army.
Although the male-dominated rebel fighters initially found it awkward taking orders from a woman, Aarour reportedly said, they finally accepted her authority.
According to the report, a number of women have joined the rebel units in their bitter struggle against the Syrian army. Thouwyba Kanfani, an engineer, traveled from Canada to Syria to take part in the campaign against the government; however, Aarour is the first to take a senior commander’s role.