The Kurdish female commander in charge of leading all women fighters against Islamic State in the battle over the border town of Kobane is calling on women throughout the world to help defeat the Islamic State and end its mistreatment of women.
While numerous Kurdish women are joining the battle against the Islamic State, the commander of the Women's Protection Unit of the Kurdish peshmerga defending Kobane, Meysa Abdo, wrote in an opinion piece for Wednesday's New York Times that her forces are in dire need of better weaponry and assistance from international governments.
Abdo, who is also known by her nom de guerre Narin Afrin, urges women from across the world to bring awareness to ISIS' atrocious cruelty toward women and religious minorities so they can persuade their governments to assist the Kurdish forces in protecting "the rights of women everywhere."
Although the town of Kobane has not been fully captured by the Islamic State, in the regions that the jihadist group has captured, which includes much of northern Iraq and portions of Syria, the treatment to women and religious minorities has been almost unbearable. ISIS militants have forced female captives to become sex slaves, forced them into marriages with jihadist fighters, and forced them to live their lives with restricted freedoms as dictated by ISIS' radical brand of Islam.
"Those of us on the front lines are well aware of the Islamic State's treatment of women," Abdo wrote. "We expect women around the world to help us, because we are fighting for the rights of women everywhere. We do not expect them to come to join our fight here (though we would be proud if any did). But we do ask women to promote our case and to raise awareness of our situation in their own countries, and to pressure their governments to help us."
As it is believed that if a jihadist is killed by a woman he will be sent to hell instead of his god-granted paradise, Abdo and numerous other Kurdish female fighters are doing their part to protect the town of Kobane from the same persecution that is felt in other ISIS strongholds. Abdo writes that she is just one of the "many" female leaders in the fight against the Islamic State in Kobane, as she leads an all-female peshmerga battalion of the People's Protection Unit.
Although she said that she's thankful for the support of the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, which she noted has been "instrumental" in limiting the ability of the Islamic State by destroying their tanks and heavy artillery, she added that Kurdish forces still need heavier weaponry. Abdo explained that the weapons her forces have now pale in comparison to the weapons the Islamic State has secured.
"We will never give up," she wrote. "But we need more than merely rifles and grenades to carry out our own responsibilities and aid the coalition in its war against the jihadist forces. Currently, even when fighters from other Kurdish regions in Northern Syria try to supply us with some of their own armored vehicles and antitank missiles, Turkey has not allowed them to do so."
The inspiration for her opinion piece seems to stem from the fact that NATO member Turkey, which shares a good chunk of its southern border with Syria, has been anything but helpful to the Kurdish forces in their attempts to get more weapons to their fighters in Kobane.
While Kurdish forces in the border town are blocked on three sides by the Islamic State, their only opportunity to receive weapons and other supplies would be through the Turkish border. However, Abdo said the Turkish government is not allowing Kurdish reinforcements to cross the border. Additionally, Abdo said Turkish border patrol have also been allowing ISIS fighters to freely cross the border.
"The Turkish government is pursuing an anti-Kurdish policy against the Syrian Kurds, and their priority is to suppress the Kurdish freedom movement in Northern Syria. They want Kobane to fall," Abdo wrote. "We have never been hostile to Turkey. We want to see it as a partner, not an enemy, and we believe that it is in the Turkish government's interest to have a border with the democratic administration of a western Kurdistan rather than one with the Islamic State."
Abdo is also asking that western governments pressure Turkey to open a corridor for Syrian Kurdish forces.
"We believe that such a corridor, and not only the limited transport of other fighters that Turkey has proposed, should be opened under the supervision of the United Nations," Abdo states. "The people of Kobane need the attention and help of the world."