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Syrian Kurdish Female Fighters Expand Ranks Against IS

  • Amina Misto

Syrian Kurdish female fighters are expanding their ranks on the frontlines of the fight against Islamic State militants in northeastern Syria.

In a remote camp near the Kurdish city of Afrin in northwestern Syria, the leadership of Women's Protection Units (YPJ) continues to recruit and train young women to prepare them for combat missions against IS.

"We learn how to use weapons and we take military education classes," said Rozelin, a new recruit.

At the onset of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) established armed wings in the Kurdish-majority areas of Syria. The People's Protection Units (YPG) was the main group that fought in the area. The YPJ was another wing the PYD formed to include only female fighters.

FILE - Kurdish female fighters move to another secured point in the contested zone of Kobani, Syria, on Nov. 19, 2014.

FILE - Kurdish female fighters move to another secured point in the contested zone of Kobani, Syria, on Nov. 19, 2014.

Ever since, the two armed groups have been in control of much of northern Syria.

Through intensive training, the female recruits begin their daily work with physical exercises. Other activities include military education and capacity building.

"We live a collective life," Zilan, a weapon trainer, told VOA. "We lead our lives together."

Frontline veterans share their experiences with their new comrades.

"We are here to teach them what we have gained from fighting experience," said Derik Lelon, a YPJ commander who has been leading combat units against IS militants.

FILE - A female fighter from the Turkey-based Kurdish Workers' Party sits with fighters from the Syria-based People's Protection Units (YPG) on the outskirts of the town of Sinjar, northern Iraq, on Jan. 29, 2015.

FILE - A female fighter from the Turkey-based Kurdish Workers' Party sits with fighters from the Syria-based People's Protection Units (YPG) on the outskirts of the town of Sinjar, northern Iraq, on Jan. 29, 2015.

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