Kurdish female fighters battle Islamic State in Kobani


October 23, 2014

By Brent Eng and Mohammed al-Haj Ali

AMMAN: As the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga battle to keep Kobani out of Islamic State hands, the PYD – the dominant Kurdish group in Syria – may not have survived the wait for reinforcements in the border city without the efforts of its women fighters.

“Female Kurdish fighters make up about 25 percent of the 5,000 total fighters in Kobani,” Mustafa al-Abidi, a Kurdish journalist inside Kobani, told Syria Direct Thursday. 

Kobani22 A cartoon circulating on social media Thursday. Photo courtesy of 

The leader of the Kurdish defense of Kobani is a 40-year old woman known by her Kurdish name, Nalin Abdu. Her real name is Maysa Abdu, says al-Abidi, and she is originally from the Kurdish city of Efrin in northern Aleppo province.

“The women fighters don’t differ in any way from the male fighters,” says al-Abidi. 

IS forces retook Tel Shair, three kilometers east of the city, and are attempting to advance in the south. They also continue to attack from the west and east. It was not immediately clear how much of Kobani is now under IS control.

The Turkish government agreed Monday to facilitate the passage of Iraqi Peshmerga fighters through Turkey to reinforce Kobani. On Wednesday, the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament approved the movement to send its Peshmerga fighters to Syria, reported Kurdish news agency Rudaw.

“We welcome [the Peshmerga] because they are coming to help us in the fight against terrorism at a time when the FSA did not,” says al-Abidi.

Earlier this week, American planes airdropped military supplies to Kurdish fighters in Kobani, who for weeks have been asking for more weapons. But some of those weapons were intercepted by Islamic State fighters.

The supplies included “light weapons and medical equipment, which will benefit the resilience of the city,” says al-Abadi.

However, the arrival of the Peshmerga and military supplies, the journalist said, “have not changed IS’s strategy [against Kobani].”

“IS sends reinforcements every day.”

On Thursday, IS reportedly retook a strategic hill overlooking Kobani, five kilometers east of the city, according to Rudaw.

-October 23, 2014

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