The women warriors who are terrifying the jihadis in Kobane

You wouldn’t know it from her sweet smile, but the reason why Nesrin Abdi carries a rifle is in case she needs to shoot herself dead.
This, she explained matter-of-factly, would be preferable to being captured by the monsters of Islamic State.
Nesrin, a 20-year-old medical student, is by all accounts a happy, well-educated, middle-class young woman with an infectious joy for life.
In her home town of Kobane on the Syria-Turkey border, moments of joy are rare, but a photograph captures the triumphant moment three days ago when she was among Kurdish fighters who recaptured a strategic hill from the Islamic State invaders.
The jihadis’ sinister black flag was torn down and replaced with a fluttering Kurdish red-and-yellow banner, marking what may well prove a symbolic turning point in the life-and-death struggle for the besieged town.
But Nesrin, a doctor’s daughter who has joined an army of women battling to defend Kobane, is aware that every day could be her last.
She told me: ‘Everyone knows what happens if IS catches you. For a woman it is rape, followed by beheading. We have all seen the videos of the American and British hostages beheaded in the desert. They will treat us the same.
‘I carry a Kalashnikov and if I am cornered face-to-face with an IS fighter, I don’t know exactly what I will do. Maybe I will kill him or maybe I will kill myself.’
The battle for Kobane has raged for a month and the stakes could hardly be higher. On Nato’s doorstep, it has become a litmus test of the resolve of America and its allies to crush the growing menace of Islamic State.
The bloodthirsty fanatics are pouring in reinforcements and have the town in a deadly stranglehold, with up to 13,000 civilians trapped inside, including the elderly and babies hungry for milk. The United Nations has warned of ‘another Srebenica’ — like the massacre in Bosnia in 1995 — unless the world acts.
Photographer Jamie Wiseman and I have been witnessing the struggle unfold from a Turkish hilltop overlooking the town. In the past four days, cheered by Kurds on the hilltop, the U.S. has stepped up the coalition bombing campaign of IS targets, claiming its warplanes have blown up 600 jihadis along with American tanks and artillery that they pilfered from the Iraqi army.

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