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Video: The Courage Of Kurdish Women Activists Against Daesh In Syria
For eight years now, Syria has been a battlefield whose fate continues to move the whole world. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives. ISIS controlled some of the territories for three years. Many refugees left their homes to seek asylum in European countries. Yes, we have all witnessed these sad events which changed the fate of the Syrian people. Unfortunately, given the latest announcements, the war is far from over. But today we are going to tell you about the Kurdish women fighters who have dedicated their lives to the fight against Daesh. Extremely courageous ladies who have inspired several film projects. Discover the story of the famous photographer Maryam Ashrafi!
Meet the militant Kurdish women and their fight against Daesh in Syria
The goal of these courageous Kurdish women was to eradicate the caliphate in Syria and they did well. On March 23, 2019, the Arab-Kurdish armies, reinforced by the United States, announced the end of the Daesh caliphate in Syria. A victory too awaited and crucial, but unfortunately not enough to completely eliminate the nuisance caused by the jihadists. Young women are part of the Women's Protection Units, also known by the abbreviation YPJ. It is a Kurdish militant brigade made up entirely of women.
Barely out of adolescence, these Kurdish women made the decision to join the YPJ organization and become activists united by one goal: to defeat the jihadists and to root the influence of the Islamic State out of Syria. Brave and seasoned, they have a strong feminist spirit, which is rare among other cultures in this region. Like their male counterparts, they swore to die to protect their Kurdish community.
Kurdish women fighters have deeply inspired photojournalist Maryam Ashrafi who has chosen to bring their brave actions to the public's attention. Born in Tehran in 1982, Ashrafi is passionate about sociology, which prompted her to focus on social and political issues in countries around the world and more specifically those of the Kurds. The photographer therefore lived with the Kurdish militant women in Syria thus becoming part of their sorrow, joy and triumph. In 2016, Maryam even made a solo photographic exhibition in Paris where exceptional photographs testified to the courage and struggles of Kurdish women.
Courageous Kurdish women facing the jihadist threat: the testimony of Maryam Ashrafi
The Syrian civil war has destroyed homes, separated families as well as entire communities. And while many families managed to flee to Europe, a group of fighting Kurdish women remained in the northern region of Syria to oppose ISIS in an effort to rebuild their lives. Ashrafi admits that telling the story of these brave young women was for her something more than a simple photographic project. Living with the activists, the photographer was able to sense their emotions and closely observe their struggle against Daesh.
Although Kurdish women have gained some equality in recent years, they continue to struggle for independence and empowerment in a traditionally male-dominated society. Maryam Ashrafi does not hide her anger and disappointment at the suffering and sacrifices that these women and men stoically endured as well as the limited help from other countries.
The militants succeeded in liberating the town of Kobane and also took over 160 villages. While there, Maryam attended the soldiers' funerals every other day. The young photographer still talks about the constant threat of death or serious injury during fighting and patrolling, which persisted even after victories.
* Image credit: Maryam Ashrafi. Sarah, a member of YPJ, spends her free time playing with the little girl of the family she is visiting, near the town of Kobane, on April 9, 2015.
Ashrafi also says that the fighters had to constantly move by establishing temporary camps in old abandoned structures, such as a school in Baghdâd, closed when the city was occupied by Daesh. The Iranian hopes that people can put themselves in the shoes of the women in her images. Therefore, she decided to focus on their daily life and quiet times.
The mainstream media's ignorance of the history of Kurdish female combatants was the main cause of Ashrafi's strong motivation to show their brave actions to the whole world. And the results are not long in coming! After Kobane's release, the Iranian woman's shots received a lot of attention and she hopes people across the world will long remember the surroundings and the faces of these militant women.
At the start of her project in 2012, Maryam Ashrafi was living with Kurdish fighters from Iran who were living in military camps in Iraqi Kurdistan. She remembers the precious moments during her trip to the Qandil mountains as well as her stay in 2015 with the people of Kobane. Dear memories which helped him to understand the objectives of the militants.
The courage of women fighters against Daesh adapted to cinema
A key partner in the fight against Daesh, the troops composed entirely of Kurdish women have inspired many film projects. Directed and scripted by Caroline Fourest, the film "Sisters in arms" is based on real events and was released on October 9, 2019. It tells the story of two young French women who joined the Kurdish forces in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. And although the project is geared towards a fairly popular theme and discussed lately, it has suffered a lot of criticism from the French press.
The battle of Kurdish women fighters against Daesh in Syria
Many Kurdish women have decided to give up the security offered by European countries in order to devote their lives to the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. These brave fighters became extremely popular after the implementation of Maryam Ashrafi's photography project. And in the following lines, we will introduce you to some of these activists who certainly deserve special attention.
Asia Ramazan Antar
The Kurdish Asia Ramazan Antar is arguably the most famous female fighter. She gained worldwide attention with images describing her as "the Kurdish Angelina Jolie", which was sharply criticized by activists and the Democratic Union Party. Antar died on August 30, 2016, during the battle of Manbij against Daesh following a suicide attack.
* Image credit: Daily Mirror
Aged 21, Arianne Zargroz was part of the YPJ and YPG military groups whose objective was to destroy the ISIS headquarters in Raqqa. She explains that Kurdish female combatants want to be equal to men and that they are 100% capable of carrying out military operations.
* Photo credit: Joey L.
An activist for women's rights as well as an exceptional Kurdish fighter, Rojda Felat leads the Syrian Democratic Forces which succeeded in freeing Raqqa from the influence of the Islamic State. Recognized for her beaming smile, the commander is also described as "the woman who makes Daesh tremble".