As the American-led aerial bombing campaign against ISIS has failed to produce any substantial results, Kurds in Iraq and Syria have been at the frontline of battles against the Islamic State army.
The Kurdish units known as YPJ, or Peshmerga, have been particularly valuable in that fight. Composed of women soldiers, the YPJ is the terror of many an ISIS barbarian because while the Islamists believe that “martyrdom” in battle wins them an afterlife full of virgins, being killed by a woman makes them laughingstocks who will spend eternity with the sock puppet of love.
Probably no YPJ commander is better known than Mayssa Abdo, who has led the fight to keep the town of Kobani out of ISIS hands. And among Abdo’s troops, none is more feared by enemies than the woman known as “Rehana.”
As female heroes go, Rehana makes Sigourney Weaver’s character of Ripley from the Alien movies look like a sewing circle matron.
The stories go that Rehana has singlehandedly sent more than 100 ISIS fighters to their dateless eternity, which makes her probably twice as effective as President Obama’s entire air campaign to date.
A pretty young woman with a winning smile and two-tone red-brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, Rehana started being known internationally when her picture appeared on Twitter, posted by an associate who praised her bravery.
The photo shows a petite woman in a camouflage shirt and combat vest flashing a victory sign for the camera.
She is one of an estimated 10,000 Peshmerga troops fighting in Syria and Iraq. According to Col. Nahida Ahmed, who was interviewed by the BBC, the YPJ troops undergo rigorous daily combat training when not on assignment, and many of them are veterans who already had combat experience before gearing up against ISIS.
The fight for Kobani has been particularly brutal, with ISIS fighters lining streets with the heads of civilians. Refugees have reported ISIS gauging out the eyes of people it captures before killing them.
The American airstrikes have not been effective in most of the areas that are targeted, but in Kobani, the YPJ and other Kurdish troops have been able to use them to their advantage. When the airstrikes chase ISIS troops from their foxholes, the YPJ have been able to sweep in, take back territory and hold it — a strategic element missing from Obama’s battle plan elsewhere because of his unwillingness to send in ground troops.
Kobani has high strategic value to ISIS, as it is pretty much the last obstacle between Syria and Turkey, and would give ISIS troops free run of the Turkish border.
Turkish troops have mostly stood by and watched as the Kurds have fought ISIS within view of the border. Turkish air raids have ostensibly been aimed at ISIS, but Kurds have reported them hitting assets vital to the Kurdish forces.
The smell of betrayal is in the air, needless to say.
After her photo hit the Internet, a rumor circulated that Rehana had been killed by ISIS. There are no confirmed reports, however, and hopefully it’s just a rumor started by some disgruntled Islamist.
For the moment, though, women like Rehana have been able to do what the U.S. airstrikes have not, by holding the red line and going toe to toe with the monsters from ISIS.
If only our president were serious about helping them.