BEIRUT: A Kurdish woman fighter is leading the battle against Islamic State militants in the Syrian battleground town of Kobani, a monitoring group and activists said Sunday.
“Mayssa Abdo, known by the nom-de-guerre of Narin Afrin, is commanding the YPG in Kobani along with Mahmud Barkhodan,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The secular and left-leaning Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) group has been defending Kobani, on the border with Turkey, since Islamic State (IS) fighters launched an assault on Sept. 16.
The group, the de facto army of the Kurdish regions of north and northeast Syria, is the armed wing of the powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
As is the custom for Kurdish fighters, Mayssa, 40, uses a pseudonym, with hers coming from the Afrin region where she was born that is located like Kobani in Aleppo province. “Those who know her say she is cultivated, intelligent and phlegmatic,” said Mustefa Ebdi, a Kurdish activist from Kobani.
“She cares for the mental state of the fighters and takes interest in their problems,” he said
Women traditionally form a major part of Kurdish fighting forces, and they are well represented among Kurdish forces in neighboring Turkey and Iraq. On Oct. 5, young Kurdish woman fighter Dilar Gencxemis blew herself up outside Kobani in an attack which reportedly killed dozens of IS militants.