Kurdish women at vanguard of Kobani battle against Islamic State

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A Kurdish woman fighter is leading the major battle against the Islamic State in the Syrian border town of Kobani, which is on the brink of falling into the hands of the extremist group, the head of the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights told AFP.

“Mayssa Abdo, known by the pseudonym of Narin Afrin, is commanding the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Kobani along with Mahmoud Barkhodan,” the head of the London-based monitoring group said.

The YPG, the armed wing of the powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), has been defending Kobani, on the border with Turkey, from an attack by the Islamic State for weeks.

“Those who know her say she is cultivated, intelligent and phlegmatic,” said Mustefa Ebdi, a Kurdish activist from Kobani. “She cares for the mental state of the fighters and takes an interest in their problems,” he said.

Mayssa is among the Kurdish women who are fighting alongside male fighters in the Kobani battle.

Early on 5 October a young Kurdish woman fighter blew herself up outside Kobani in an attack which reportedly killed dozens of Islamic State militants.

This came as Turkey’s top diplomat allegedly said setting up a corridor allowing weapons and volunteer fighters from Turkey to reach Kobani was unrealistic.

Kurdish leaders have been urging Turkey to establish a corridor to Kobani to allow aid and military supplies to reach the town.

On Friday Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s envoy for Syria made a similar appeal to Ankara, urging Turkey to let “volunteers” cross the border to Kobani.

But Turkey has so far refused to take part in the military coalition against the Islamic State.