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‘If we die, we want to look pretty’: Defiant Kurdish soldier girls refuse to go without makeup while gunning down ISIS fighters in Iraq… with a helping hand from the British

In the fight against the fanatics of Islamic State, lipstick might seem an unlikely weapon. But for the woman warriors of Iraqi Kurdistan makeup is essential – if they die they want to look beautiful.


Currently in training with British soldiers, the peshmerga fighters are defending the crucial Mosul Dam from the IS hordes.

One of them, Ahd Mohemed, starts her morning by drawing on her eyebrows, putting on mascara, applying lipstick and painting her nails before grabbing her combat fatigues and AK-47.

‘I always put on lipstick before I go on the frontline,’ said the 36-year-old. ‘When we fight we want to look pretty. If I die, I want to die looking pretty.’

Miss Mohemed, who suspended her law degree a year ago to fight the terrorists, added: ‘I have not killed anyone yet. God willing, the next time sure.

‘It is scary fighting Daesh (IS) of course. They are very dangerous. We want to kill them because they want to kill us but we would rather not have to fight with anyone.’

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Rifles, are giving three-week basic infantry courses to the women’s battalion near the frontline in Erbil, northern Iraq. So far more than 100 have graduated.

Lieutenant Colonel Oz Lane, the commander of the 80-strong UK training unit, said: ‘What the female peshmerga are really proud of is their war fighting skills. Now it is about showing them what they can bring in terms of operational capability on the battlefield, in addition to just being really good at fighting Daesh.

‘Having identified three companies, we started training one on basic infantry skills and within that package, the law of armed conflict, the protection of civilians and preventing sexual violence.’
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: ‘These brave female peshmerga fighters will help ensure that Daesh are kicked out of Iraq for good and we must keep supporting them.’

The female peshmerga are noted for their bravery and teenagers are desperate to join the fight. Susan Mohammed Rashid, 16, who lives in a refugee camp for Syrian Kurds just outside Erbil, said: ‘When I am 18 I want to join the peshmerga. I am very strong and I do weights in my spare time to get ready.’


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