By Mairead McArdle
Female Kurdish soldiers. (Wikimedia Commons)
(CNSNews.com) — A group of about 50 Syrian Christian women have left their homes, jobs, and children to form a new battalion to fight the encroaching ISIS terrorists.
The battalion is called the Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers – referring to the Tigris and the Euphrates.
The unit began graduating recruits in August from its training base in Al-Qahtaniyeh, a town located near the Syrian-Iraqi border about 62 miles west of Mosul, according to an AFP story published last week in The Times of Israel.
ISIS, which has forced many women and girls into sexual slavery, has also driven thousands of Syrian Christians from their homeland since civil war began in the region in March, 2011.
While the all-female unit currently focuses most on defending the Christian parts of Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh Province, Thabirta Samir, 24, says the women know they will be facing ISIS at some time in the future.
“I’m not afraid of Daesh (ISIS), and we will be present in the coming battles against the terrorists,” said Samir, who is partially in charge of training. She previously worked for a Syriac cultural association.
Babylonia, a 36-year-old mother of two, told AFP that she left her hairdressing job and is ready to fight ISIS for the safety and future of her children.“I’m a practicing Christian and thinking about my children makes me stronger and more determined in my fight against Daesh.
“I miss Limar and Gabriella and worry that they must be hungry, thirsty and cold. But I try to tell them I’m fighting to protect their future.”
Babylonia said her husband, also a fighter, encouraged her to join the women warriors against ISIS to “fight against the idea that the Syriac woman is good for nothing except housekeeping and make-up.”
Eighteen-year-old Ithraa referenced the genocide of Syrian and other Orthodox Christians by the Ottoman Turks a century ago as a reason she joined the force. She and her fellow female fighters want to prevent “a new massacre like that committed by the Ottomans… when they tried to erase our Christian and Syriac identity,” she said.
The new female combat unit is a sequel to Syria’s other female force, the women of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPJ.
The Female Protection Forces, fought alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces, composed of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters. The SDF successfully reclaimed the town of Al-Hol in November, which is strategically located between territories controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Eighteen-year-old Lucia, wearing a wooden crucifix around her neck and a camouflage bandana on her head, said she left her studies to answer the call to arms. “I took part in a battle for the first time in the Al-Hol area, but my team wasn’t attacked by IS,” she told AFP.
“I fight with a Kalashnikov, but I’m not ready to become an elite sniper yet,” she continued, adding that her sister had joined the women’s unit as well in spite of their mother’s trepidation.
The all-female battalion, which has reportedly received weapons from the U.S. as well as air support from the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, may enjoy the same unexpected advantage as the women of the YPJ.
“They think they’re fighting in the name of Islam,” a 21-year-old female commander, told CNN. “They believe if someone from Daesh is killed by a girl, a Kurdish girl, they won’t go to heaven. They’re afraid of girls.”