These Remarkable Women Are Fighting ISIS. It’s Time You Know Who They Are
There’s a group of 7,500 soldiers who have been fighting an incalculably dangerous war for two years. They fight despite daily threats of injury and death. They fight with weapons that are bigger and heavier than they are against a relentless enemy. And yet they continue to fight.
They are the YPJ (pronounced Yuh-Pah-Juh) or the Women’s Protection Unit, an all-women, all-volunteer Kurdish military faction in Syria that formed in 2012 to defend the Kurdish population against the deadly attacks lead by Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, the al-Nusra Front (an al-Qaeda affiliate), and ISIS.
In a recent BBC article, the YPJ, and their male counterpart unit, the YPG, were deemed “extraordinarily successful” in the battle to squash the growing ISIS militant force, despite limited means. The Washington Post has also weighed in on the importance and impact of the YPJ, suggesting the forces could be an effective ally to the West. Both the YPJ and YPG have also been credited with helping the U.S.-assisted effort to evacuate thousands of Yazidi refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar after ISIS invaded their towns.
Photographer Erin Trieb recently spent a week documenting members of the YPJ at several military posts in Northeastern Syria and along the Syrian-Kurdish border. She recalled to us an incident that occurred during her time there: “One morning, I heard two loud blasts, one followed by another. I asked my translator, Rama, what it was and she said, ‘That’s just the YPJ and ISIS saying good morning to each other.’”
So who are these women who confront some of the world’s most notorious and lethal groups and why have so few in the West heard of them? We asked Trieb to share with us her experience (and photographs) of the YPJ and the harrowing words these women fighters wanted the rest of the world to hear. READ MORE