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‘We Hope for Battle’ : Kurdish Women Fighters strike Fear into Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorist Group in Iraq

In 2014, under Islamic State rule, as many as 7,000 Yazidi women and girls were kidnapped and sold as sex slaves

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On a quiet Monday evening, young female soldiers play volleyball as the sun goes down over their base, a converted schoolhouse.

Not far from mass graves along the side of the road where hundreds of people were killed by IS, the women say they joined up not to fight, but to fight back.

Of all of the victims Islamic State militants have created in this region, Yazidi women arguably have the most reason to be angry.

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“Militants took our daughters and sisters and sold them in other cities,” said Najwa Ali Ismail, a 25-year-old soldier.”I joined the peshmerga to defend my homeland.”

At an all-female base, a peshmerga soldier stands guard on Nov. 14, 2016, in Snuny, Iraq (H. Murdock/VOA)
At an all-female base, a peshmerga soldier stands guard on Nov. 14, 2016, in Snuny, Iraq (H. Murdock/VOA)

In 2014, under Islamic State rule, as many as 7,000 Yazidi women and girls were kidnapped and sold as sex slaves. Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled to the mountains surrounding Sinjar. Thousands died of exposure.

Others were slaughtered in the city and thrown in the mass graves they had been forced to dig. Roughly 5,000 other people were also killed in an attempt to wipe out the religious sect — an act the United Nations has called a genocide.

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As members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces, the women fighters are now preparing for battle — if called upon — with daily exercises and weapons training, according to unit leader Capt. Xatun Ali.

Ali, the original member of the unit, solicited the peshmerga forces for a place in their army after fleeing her home in 2014. She spent nearly two weeks in the mountains before peshmerga soldiers beat back enough jihadists for civilians to flee.

Many starved, she says, and some women chose suicide over rape. After she escaped, her family suggested she flee to Europe, like so many other refugees. But she wanted to stay and fight.

Leaders say hundreds of women have joined the Yazidi brigade, and thousands more have requested to join, Nov. 14, 2016 in Snuny, Iraq. (H. Murdock/VOA)
Leaders say hundreds of women have joined the Yazidi brigade, and thousands more have requested to join, Nov. 14, 2016 in Snuny, Iraq. (H. Murdock/VOA)

Since the IS take over of much of this region, this brigade has grown from one to hundreds, and thousands more Yazidi women have asked to join.

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“Any weapons kind of weapons we use on the frontlines are to defend our daughters and our people. As Yazidis, we do not believe in attacking and murdering people,” Ali said. “But nowadays terrorists are blowing themselves up and killing people. They are like fire. We must fight fire with fire.”

Young female fighters say they they hope to battle Islamic State militants after mass rapes, executions and kidnappings that the United Nations says amounts to genocide, Nov. 14, 2016, in Snuny, Iraq. (H. Murdock/VOA)
Young female fighters say they they hope to battle Islamic State militants after mass rapes, executions and kidnappings that the United Nations says amounts to genocide, Nov. 14, 2016, in Snuny, Iraq. (H. Murdock/VOA)

Ali fought on the frontlines when Sinjar was captured by peshmerga soldiers a year ago. Now her troops are training to defend not just other Yazidis, but also Kurdistan, a semiautonomous region in Iraq.

In the meantime, she says her brigade, like other peshmerga troops, is focused on holding the IS lines back, and healing the ruined towns and cities IS left behind.

“Since the mass graves are on the roadside, people see them and it makes them sad,” she said. “There are people in there from age 1 to 90. We need to move them.” (VOA)

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Facebook, Twitter Urged to Do More to Police Hate on Sites

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Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA
Fake accounts on Twitter will be identifie too. VOA

Tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google are taking steps to police terrorists and hate groups on their sites, but more work needs to be done, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday.

The organization released its annual digital terrorism and hate report card and gave a B-plus to Facebook, a B-minus to Twitter and a C-plus to Google.

Facebook spokeswoman Christine Chen said the company had no comment on the report. Representatives for Google and Twitter did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

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Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, said Facebook in particular built “a recognition that bad folks might try to use their platform” as its business model. “There is plenty of material they haven’t dealt with to our satisfaction, but overall, especially in terms of hate, there’s zero tolerance,” Cooper said at a New York City news conference.

Rick Eaton, a senior researcher at the Wiesenthal Center, said hateful and violent posts on Instagram, which is part of Facebook, are quickly removed, but not before they can be widely shared.

He pointed to Instagram posts threatening terror attacks at the upcoming World Cup in Moscow. Another post promoted suicide attacks with the message, “You only die once. Why not make it martyrdom.”

Cooper said Twitter used to merit an F rating before it started cracking down on Islamic State tweets in 2016. He said the move came after testimony before a congressional committee revealed that “ISIS was delivering 200,000 tweets a day.”

ALSO READ: Teenagers using Social Media more likely to suffer sleep deprivations: Study

facebook
This photo shows Facebook launched on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. VOA

Cooper and Eaton said that as the big tech companies have gotten more aggressive in shutting down accounts that promote terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism, promoters of terrorism and hate have migrated to other sites such as VK.com, a Facebook lookalike that’s based in Russia.

There also are “alt-tech” sites like GoyFundMe, an alternative to GoFundMe, and BitChute, an alternative to Google-owned YouTube, Cooper said.

“If there’s an existing company that will give them a platform without looking too much at the content, they’ll use it,” he said. “But if not, they are attracted to those platforms that have basically no rules.”

The Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, hate, and terrorism. (VOA)