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WHAT THEY FEAR MOST: Xtian female fighters take on ISIS in Syria


Hasakeh (Syria) (AFP) – Babylonia has no regrets about leaving behind her two children and her job as a hairdresser to join a Christian female militia battling against the Islamic State group in Syria.

The fierce-looking 36-year-old in fatigues from the Syriac Christian minority in the northeast believes she is making the future safe for her children.

“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,” she told AFP.

Babylonia belongs to a small, recently created battalion of Syriac Christian women in Hasakeh province who are fighting IS.

They 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.

So far the new force is small, with around 50 graduates so far from its training camp in the town of Al-Qahtaniyeh, also known as Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish.

But the “Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers” — the area between the Tigris and Euphrates waterways historically inhabited by Syriacs — is teeming with women eager to prove their worth against IS.

It was actually Babylonia’s husband who encouraged her to leave Limar, nine, and six-year-old Gabriella and join the unit whose first recruits graduated in August.

Himself a fighter, he urged her to take up arms to “fight against the idea that the Syriac woman is good for nothing except housekeeping and make-up”, she said.

– ‘Fear quickly went away’ –

“I’m a practising Christian and thinking about my children makes me stronger and more determined in my fight against Daesh,” added Babylonia, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Syriac Christians belong to the eastern Christian tradition and pray in Aramaic. They include both Orthodox and Catholic branches, and constitute around 15 percent of Syria’s 1.2 million Christians.

Before the conflict began in March 2011, Christians from some 11 different sects made up around five percent of the population.

The unit’s first major action was alongside the newly created Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters, which recently recaptured the strategic town of Al-Hol.

“I took part in a battle for the first time in the Al-Hol area, but my team wasn’t


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