Skip to main content

Meet the Kurdish woman leading battle against IS in northern Syria

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Kurdish commander Rojda Felat, one of the leaders in the battle to retake Raqqa, shares her experience as a female fighter against the Islamic State.
Rojda Felat, commander of a U.S.-backed operation by Kurdish and Arab fighters to capture the Syrian city of Raqqa, uses her walkie talkie near the Taqba Dam, west of Raqqa, Syria March 30, 2017. Picture taken March 30, 2017. To match Interview MIDEAST-CRISIS/SYRIA-RAQQA REUTERS/Rodi Said - RTX33I1G
Read in 

TABQA, Syria — Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, when the peaceful conflict turned into a military one, Kurdish factions have been working for change in Syria. A large number of the fighters in the Kurdish factions have been female, and they have gained considerable experience in leading battles against the Islamic State (IS).

Rojda Felat, one of the top commanders of the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) who fought groups like Jabhat al-Nusra at Ras al-Ain in 2012 and IS in Kobani, is now one of the leaders of a major campaign against IS — Operation Wrath of the Euphrates in northern Raqqa. The operation is headed by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the YPJ and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with the support of the United States. The inclusion of female fighters is an intentional response to IS members' fear of being killed by women because that would prevent them from entering paradise.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.