Homeland Security

Assyrian-Syriac Women Mark Three Years of Fighting ISIS and Defeating Stereotypes

Christian women fighters on the ground versus ISIS in Syria marked the three-year anniversary of the founding of their unit today, and vowed to keep up the battle as they draw more women into the ranks.

Hundreds of Syriac-Chaldean-Assyrian, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian women are among more than 2,000 Christian fighters whose units battle terrorists under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The spokesman for the SDF, which includes Kurdish and Arab fighters, is Kino Gabriel from the Syriac Military Council, the Assyrian/Syriac Christian male fighters.

The general command of the Bethnahrin Women Protection Forces, or HSNB, said in a statement that they have fought more than ISIS — they’ve also waged war against stereotypes as they’ve taken up arms against their would-be oppressors.

“During the history, women have been always in a secondary position during the vital transition, developments and processes and did not play the important role while targeted by the hegemonic powers, facing killings, harassment and attacks,” the HSNB said, stressing that “Assyrian-Syriac women in every period faced difficulties but at the end they stand with courage and showed resistance.”

“During the last conflicts in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria, Assyrian-Syriac women had been a primary target. Women had been killed, abducted and forced to convert, and attacked from different actors. With the attacks on women, also our people had been targeted,” the statement continued. “In order to respond to the annihilative politics, to the killings and denial, Assyrian-Syriac women should protect identity, culture, history and homeland. Assyrian-Syriac women should organize themselves against destructive and dark mentality, attacks and support equal life and freedom with peace.”

HSNB fighters pray in an ancient Syrian monastery recently liberated from ISIS. (HSNB photo)

The establishment of the HSNB, they added, was “a historical step to protect women from every attack and danger” and a “breakthrough development to protect women, culture, and people against reactionary and terrorist groups.”

“With this, HSNB took part in the liberation battles in Syria with partner forces to protect the region and liberate people. With this, we already broke stereotypes against women.”

The general command added that with the founding of the HSNB, “women took leading role and responsibility with courage and took step toward military for a free future in the homeland.”

“As a first women force, HSNB has an important responsibility to honor martyrs, national struggle with free will for the homeland and people. On this basis, we call our women to join our struggle and respond to the ongoing conflict in the homeland,” the statement continued. “On the third anniversary of HSNB, we declare again our attachment to our struggle until the victory.”

In addition to securing areas that have been liberated from ISIS, SDF fighters have had to defend Kurdish areas from Turkish attacks while battling remainders of ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. A new report to Congress estimated “roughly 14,000 fighters” still in Syria and “15,500 to 17,100 ISIS fighters” remaining in Iraq at the conclusion of the quarter at the end of June.

Earlier this summer, Bethnahrin spokeswoman Nisha Gewriye told the European Post that other women who say they fight for equality should come fight alongside them.

“We want to invite all the feminists from Europe and Western countries to join us in the fight against Daesh and to help us defeat Daesh permanently,” she said.