A new unit of Christian female fighters has been formed in Syria to protect the Syrian Christians from the Islamic State.
The “Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers” is based in the Hasekeh province, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and currently has around 50 fighters.
The first recruits graduated the training program in August.
Kurdish forces have long fielded women in frontline combat roles as well.
There are many different Christian communities in Syria and Iraq belonging to different sects and nationalities. Some are Assyrians, descendants of the Assyrian people who once ruled the Middle East from their capital of Nineveh.
Other Christian factions in Syria include Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Chaldeans, Armenians and Maronites.
One 36-year old mother of two explained to the AFP why she had taken up arms.“I miss [my children] Limar and Gabriella and worry that they must be hungry, thirsty and cold,” she said. “But I try to tell them I’m fighting to protect their future.”