The battle for Kobane, the Syrian city on the Turkish border, continues as the Kurdish forces fight IS on the ground with air support from the United States and other allies. The Turkish army remains idle on their side of the sand. It is not clear what they are waiting for, an empowered Kurdish nationalism puts Turkey at risk (because of its significant Kurdish population), but an IS victory would not be in their favour either.
Across the 1050 kilometer border with Iraq, the autonomous Kurd’s are staging a remarkable resistance to IS, slowing them down in many areas, pushing them out in others. The Peshmerga (Kurdish armed forces) have everything the Iraqi army lacked. Coherent leadership, real reliable fraternity among the soldiery, and military effectiveness so often unseen in the region.
Through these most recent months, the greatest PR weapon has emerged and is being deployed against the Islamic State. Women soldiers. If one thing abolishes the barbaric misogyny of IS, it is a woman mercilessly wielding an AK-47 in the Peshmerga vanguard. It is starting to be widely reported than women are taking up arms, but this is nothing new to the Kurds. As has been reported by many outlets (read about it here) a women called Narin Afrin is in co-command in the battle for Kobane. The steeliness in her image on media photos, is a defining image of what is worth defending and supporting in Syria and Iraq.
The BBC produced a short video featuring the women — many of them teenagers — who make up a third of the Kurdish forces. See it here. These women are beautiful and deadly. Faces uncovered, fighting beside the men they make IS fighters shake with fear. This is not a struggle between a dreadful armed force and an innocent population facing slaughter. The people opposing IS do so with their principles in hand with their guns. They are willing to die for their freedom and security. Are we willing to support them?