Last Updated on August 16, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1196
The Daughters of Kobani begins with the introduction of four female fighters in Syria—Azeema, Rodja, Nowruz, and Znarin. All four are Syrian Kurds, part of families who are not legally permitted to practice their own culture, to speak or publish in their own language, or to celebrate their own customs or traditions. These women all strive to lead full lives, to be seen as equal to men and to not be limited by their gender. When they join the YPJ—the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units—they will fight for the rights of Kurds and women as they seek to oust the extremist, misogynist terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) from Syrian lands.
Lemmon provides a background of the Syrian Civil War, the larger conflict out of which the fight against ISIS was born. Angered by the oppression of two Assad regimes, rebel troops attempted to remove the dictator from power. The Democratic Union Party, an offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish Party (PKK), began to recruit Syrian Kurds to fight for Kurdish rights while Arab rebels focused on deposing Assad. Without a guarantee that Kurds would benefit from new Arab rulers, they had to form their own groups in order to protect their interests. The civil war began in 2011 when Assad regime troops shot down peaceful protesters in the streets. As the war raged on and a power vacuum opened in Syria, ISIS, among other terror groups, saw an opportunity to claim land for its desired Islamic empire. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) formed as the military arm of the Democratic Union Party, and soon their female counterpart, the YPJ, emerged, in 2013. The PKK and Democratic Union Party ideologies were always informed by the philosophy of Abdullah Ocalan, who emphasized the breaking of hierarchies and the necessity of gender equality in a free and just society. It seemed only natural, then, that women would also become part of the fight, both in the military and in contributing to a constitution for the Kurds of northeastern Syria.
The battle between YPG/YPJ and ISIS at Kobani forms the centerpiece of the book and marked the turning point in the fight against the Islamic fundamentalists. The conflict was fought in the city center and powered mainly by snipers and car bombs, among other explosives. As the YPG/YPJ, including Azeema, reclaimed Kobani street by street, they encountered the brutality of ISIS, who decapitated and mutilated the bodies of fallen Syrian soldiers. At one pivotal point, Azeema and her teammates were able to successfully free YPG troops from a building surrounded by ISIS, with the help of a US military air strike. Later in Kobani, however, Azeema was struck by a sniper’s bullet and eventually underwent surgery to remove the bullet from near her heart. While YPG/YPJ led the ground campaign, the Americans struck from the air to aid the Kurds in regaining Kobani from ISIS in January 2015.
After Kobani, the four YPJ fighters profiled had gained valuable battle experience and had grown in confidence as they moved on to other conflicts. However, their work did not come without cost. Azeema broke both of her legs and was reassigned to intelligence after a car bombing in Hassakeh. Nowruz commanded YPJ troops as they crossed the Euphrates River to fight to reclaim Manbij from ISIS control, aware that the conflicts that awaited on the other bank would cost numerous SDF lives. Meanwhile, Znarin had built her battle profile and was promoted from Nowruz’s aide to commander of her own troops in Manbij. During this mission, Znarin met and was motivated by a young woman, a teenager, who wanted to join YPJ someday. Nowruz was correct that the YPG/YPJ troops had suffered major losses in Manbij, but their courage in combat, with the continued help of American air strikes, eventually secured the city for the Kurds....
(The entire section contains 1196 words.)
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