“Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.” (Deuteronomy 32:35)
A renowned singer has recruited 123 Yazidi women to form an all-female fighting unit in order to fight back against the Islamic State (ISIS), which has been committing systematic genocide against the Yazidi community for the past year. The fighters, all aged between 17 and 30, are currently in training to join Kurdish soldiers on the battlefront against ISIS in Iraq.
Xate Shingali, 30, who has performed traditional Yazidi music throughout northern Iraq, received special permission from the Kurdish president to form the all-girls’ brigade, calling the group the “Sun Girls”. She formed the unit on July 2 and has already recruited 123 women, all eager to take revenge on the ISIS fighters that are decimating their people.
Since the jihadist group invaded and conquered the predominantly Yazidi region of Sinjar in northern Iraq last year, massacring 5,000 Yazidis and capturing hundreds of others, it has built a flourishing trade in abducted Yazidi women and girls, selling them as sex slaves to ISIS fighters and wealthy sheiks.
ISIS believes that the Yazidis are heretics, and thereby justifies forcing them into its institution of sex slavery. Children as young as a year old are sold into slavery. According to girls who have escaped or were ransomed by their families or other benefactors, the slaves might be raped up to thirty times a day, and they are sometimes sold over to several different buyers, enduring unimaginable cruelty and abuse in the process. Girls who refuse to have sex with their owners are often summarily killed.
Shingali and her brigade are determined to avenge their families and friends by fighting ISIS on the front lines. Many of them have sisters or cousins who were forced into sex slavery, and they are filled with a righteous determination to fight the men who have violated their loved ones and shattered the lives of thousands of Yazidis across the region.
Some are eager to fight alongside fathers and brothers who are already battling ISIS. According to the Mail Online, Jane Fares, the unit’s youngest recruit at 17, said that her family is proud of her for joining. Along with her brother and sister, Fares escaped from Sinjar mountain when ISIS laid siege to the entire region last year. “My father was so happy when I had told him I had joined,” she said.
“We are happy to fight alongside the peshmerga (Kurdish military forces),” she continued. “Before, I was scared, now I cannot be scared of them. Any second they tell us to fight ISIS I am ready…I hope to kill them all.”
Having seen the atrocities committed by ISIS firsthand, the girls are well aware of what will happen to them if they are captured. They will be killed or likely forced into sex slavery themselves. The prospect does not trouble Fares. “Even if they kill me, I will say I am a Yazidi,” she said.
Another recruit, Hadia Hassan, wants revenge for her father’s cousins, who are still trapped in ISIS territory, and a female cousin who recently escaped the group’s adopted capital in Raqqa, Syria, where ISIS is believed to hold sex slave auctions. “What I have seen happen to all the girls makes me want to fight ISIS,” she said, adding that her 15-year-old sister also wanted to join the Sun Girls but is too young.
Shingali’s 24-year-old deputy, Adiba Sido, summed up the principles for which the battalion is fighting. “They are not human…We are here to avenge and to defend our land,” she said, adding, “My sister is also a peshmerga…[and] we can fight like men.”
Within the next few months, the unit will move from their current location at the Sharya refugee camp to a more permanent base nearer to the battlefront on Sinjar mountain. Male Kurdish fighters are training the women in using AK47s, but the unit is short on military equipment. Shingali hopes that European countries will send them “more weapons and airplanes” to help the all-female unit fight ISIS.