14 photos show the remarkable Kurdish women in little-known militias who are fighting ISIS

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The Women Taking Up Arms Against IS

"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, in her mid-thirties, told Agence France-Presse in 2015.

Babylonia speaks of her children, whom she left — along with her husband and hairdressing career — to join a women's militia in northeast Syria with the mission of defeating ISIS, also known as Islamic State or Daesh.

Long before the United States announced its plans in 2015 to allow women into combat roles, men and women Kurdish were fighting alongside each other.

15 PHOTOS
Remarkable Kurdish women in militias fighting against ISIS
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Remarkable Kurdish women in militias fighting against ISIS
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - Syriac Christian Lucia, member of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, plays with a dog during a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - Syriac Christian Lucia, member of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, poses during a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - Syriac Christian Ormia, member of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, loads her weapon during a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - A Syriac Christian fighter, member of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, poses during a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - Syriac Christian women, members of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, sit talking during a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - A Syriac Christian woman, members of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, takes part in a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - Syriac Christian women, members of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, take part in a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - Syriac Christian women, members of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, take part in a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - Syriac Christian women, members of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, have lunch on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - Syriac Christian women, members of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, take part in a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border (aka Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish). The 50 graduates that counts the battalion are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG. AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP / DELIL SOULEIMAN (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Young Syrian-Kurdish women take part in a training session organized by the Kurdish Women's Defense Units (YPJ) on August 28, 2013, in the northern Syrian border village of al Qamishli, to prepare them to defend their villages if they come under attack. AFP PHOTO/BENJAMIN HILLER (Photo credit should read BENJAMIN HILLER/AFP/Getty Images)
A fighter of the Kurdish of the Kurdish Women's Defense Units (YPJ) sits on sand bags as she holds a position on the front line on October 19, 2013 in the Kurdish town of Derik (aka al-Malikiyah in Arabic), in the northeastern Hasakeh governorate on the border with Turkey and Iraq. Kurdish fighters from several villages in oil-rich Hasake province are engaged in combat against Al-Qaeda affiliated groups the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. AFP PHOTO FABIO BUCCIARELLI (Photo credit should read FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Young Syrian-Kurdish woman hides under hay during a training session organized by the Kurdish Women's Defense Units (YPJ) on August 28, 2013, in the northern Syrian border village of al Qamishli, to prepare them to defend their villages if they come under attack. AFP PHOTO/BENJAMIN HILLER (Photo credit should read BENJAMIN HILLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Young Syrian-Kurdish women take part in a training session organized by the Kurdish Women's Defense Units (YPJ) on August 28, 2013, in the northern Syrian border village of al Qamishli, to prepare them to defend their villages if they come under attack. AFP PHOTO/BENJAMIN HILLER (Photo credit should read BENJAMIN HILLER/AFP/Getty Images)
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There are minority Syriac Christians and another force known as the YPJ — the sister group to the mainstream Kurdish, all-male YPG militia — which are composed solely of women.

The women fighters have been part of a crucial initiative to protect the Tishrin Dam, for example. The dam is strategic as it is an energy source for the heavily contested town of Kobane in northern Syria, Al Jazeera reported in May.

The women not only subvert gender stereotypes, but also seek to protect the liberties afforded to them, which they would not have living in ISIS-controlled areas.

"I used to work for a Syriac cultural association, but now I take pleasure in working in the military field," Thabirta Samir, in her mid-twenties, told AFP.

"I'm not afraid of Daesh, and we will be present in the coming battles against the terrorists," she added.


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