Female Kurdish fighters are taking an active role in the battle to bring down the Syrian regime, including serving on the front lines and commanding troops.
The women are part of the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) brigade, where one in every five fighters is female, AFP reported on Sunday.
One of the women, identified only as Engizek, explained that traditional gender roles notwithstanding, women were quite capable of taking on combat roles, and were highly motivated.
“Women can shoot machine guns, Kalashnikovs and even tanks just as well as men,” said Engizek, 28, who is a commander — some of her charges are men — in one of the brigade’s units.
Although in women in Arab cultures are traditionally kept out of combat roles, in Kurdish culture women have a proud warrior history, the report said.
“Women are an integral part of our rebellion,” Engizek was quoted as saying from the front lines of street battles in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo, which has a large Kurdish community.
Media reports suggest that women have been taking an active role in fighting on both sides of the Syrian civil war for the past two years. In February, Amira al-Aarour, the daughter of a former Syrian army officer, became the first female commander of a rebel fighting unit in the Aleppo area.
The YPG joined up with rebel forces fighting against the Syrian army and President Bashar Assad. The YPG is the armed section of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), considered a Syrian version of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is battling for independence from Turkey. Although initially passive, Kurds, who are Syria’s largest ethnic minority, have in recent months taken an increasingly active role in the fight against the government.