Thursday, October 23, 2014



Hundreds of mothers, sisters and daughters have taken up arms and devoted their lives to protecting Iraq's Kurdish population against the threat of the Islamic State.

Known as the women peshmerga of the 2nd Battalion, the group is made up of 550 female fighters led by Col. Nahida Ahmad Rashid, Barcroft reports.

The soldiers have not yet faced the Islamic State since the terrorists seized control of towns in Kurdistan, but the group has carried out in-depth exercises in the scorching heat of Sulaymaniyah to prepare themselves for battle.

"It's an honor to be part of a modern Muslim country that allows women to defend the homeland," said an unidentified mother who has been a soldier since the battalion's creation in 1996.

"We enjoy the same treatment as male fighters do as required by law."

Col. Nahida Ahmad Rashid, commander of the 2nd BattalionPhoto: Barcroft Media

But that hasn't stopped the women from living their everyday lives in their homes.

"We also have to take care of our personal responsibilities and households, so I would say it is more difficult to be a female peshmerga," the soldier mom added.

For one mother who already has a 5-year-old daughter, even pregnancy can't stand in her way.

"This is my duty, no matter if I am bearing a child or not," the four-months-pregnant woman said. "If I am called to the front lines, I will go."

Three women peshmerga of the 2nd Battalion assemble their AK-47 assault rifles.Photo: Barcroft Media

Peshmerga translates to "Those who confront death" and is a fighting force that is widely supported by the Kurdish population, which views them as protectors of their autonomy and territory, according to Barcroft.

Although there have been no battle losses during the 18-year history of the 2nd Battalion, three soldiers were injured in 2003 during the battle of Kirkuk as the US invaded Iraq.

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