An Israeli citizen has joined up with Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State jihadi group in northern Syria.
Israel Radio reported that Gill Rosenberg, a 31-year-old born in Canada, made contact with the YPG group, the People’s Protection Units in Syrian Kurdistan, via the internet.
Rosenberg set out from her home in Tel Aviv on November 2, stopping in Amman before flying to Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
On Sunday, Rosenberg posted to her Facebook page that she was in Nusaybin, Turkey, and was beginning her training in the mountains on the border with Syria the same day.
Rosenberg told Israel Radio that she wanted to do her part for the Kurdish national struggle, and that she was hopeful her experience in the Israel Defense Forces would be useful to the Kurds.
According to Rosenberg’s Facebook page, she served in the IDF’s Home Front Command.
Rosenberg has posted pictures of herself in mountains of Iraq and Syrian Kurdistan.
“In the IDF, we say Aharai – After Me. Let’s show ISIS what that means,” she wrote, using an alternate acronym for Islamic State.
In 2009, Rosenberg was arrested in a joint Israeli police and FBI operation on suspicion that she had been part of a ring that cheated elderly American citizens out of their money by posing as lottery officials and convincing the unsuspecting seniors to pay for fictive services, according to the Walla news site. The members of the ring, which included 11 other Israeli citizens aside from Rosenberg, were said to have stolen up to $25 million.
Rosenberg was later convicted of the crime and sentenced to four years in a US prison, though her term was eventually shortened and she was deported to Israel instead, Channel 10 reported.
Kurdish fighters have dealt the Islamic State a series of military setbacks in Iraq and forced a prolonged stalemate in the small Syrian border town of Kobani.
The prolonged fighting in Kobani is also distracting IS from more strategically important areas in Syria and Iraq where the militant extremists are already stretched on multiple fronts.
Nearly two months after IS launched its lightning assault on the Kurdish-dominated town near Turkish border, the group is bogged down in an increasingly entrenched and costly battle.
Syrian and Kurdish activists estimate nearly 600 Islamic State fighters have been killed — its heaviest losses since taking over large parts of Syria and Iraq in a summer blitz.
But despite seven weeks of fierce fighting and the reinforcements on both sides, fighting positions around Kobani remain much the same as they did several weeks ago, with IS controlling about 40 percent of the town, according to Syrian and Kurdish activists and observers.
IS has also recently suffered losses on several fronts in Iraq, where it is fighting government forces, peshmerga and Shiite militias aided by Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group.
A group of 150 Iraqi Kurdish forces known as peshmerga deployed last week to Kobani with more advanced weapons including anti-tank missiles and artillery to help bolster their Syrian brethren defending the town. They have provided artillery cover for fellow Kurdish fighters, but it is too early to say whether this has already made any difference on the ground.
AP contributed to this report.