Reports on Kurdish fighter Ceylan Özalp are false, She is alive& based in Til Kocar not Kobane(incident took place). pic.twitter.com/t96UpjXkWt
— Gudaw English (@GudawEnglish) October 4, 2014
“19-Year-Old Kurdish Woman Fighter ‘Kills Herself Rather Than Falling into Isis’ Hands'” is a headline appearing in International Business Times, October 3. I referred to the same story in this post, but it appears not to be true.
The first appearance of this story is thought to be this tweet on September 28 from @cansuipek21.
The tragic image of a nineteen-year-old woman fighter killing herself with her last bullet so that she would not be captured by ISIS, must have seemed iconic to many observers — a graphic representation of the plight Kurdish fighters in Kobane face, surrounded on three sides by ISIS while receiving no support from Turkey and very little from U.S. airstrikes. Sometimes a story conveys a powerful truth even when it turns out not to be true.
Müjgan Halis, a Kurdish journalist, has tweeted (as have others) that Özalp is alive. This was retweeted by the politician Ayla Akat Ata (who was a defense lawyer for Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK). At this point, I’m inclined to treat their word as authoritative.
This should be good news for everyone apart from ISIS.
In early September, Gabriel Gatehouse reported: Around a third of the Syrian Kurdish force is made up of women. On the front lines they fight alongside the men, taking the same risks and facing the same dangers.
“Women are the bravest fighters,” says Diren, taking refuge from the scorching heat in the cool of an underground bunker.
She and three comrades are having lunch: flatbread, cheese and watermelon. Many of the fighters, like Diren, 19, are still teenagers.
“We’re not scared of anything,” she says. “We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by IS.”
Like the followers of the Islamic State, most Kurds are Sunni Muslims. But that is where the similarities end. Diren says that, to the fanatics of IS, a female fighter is “haram”, anathema: a disturbing and scary sight.
“When they see a woman with a gun, they’re so afraid they begin to shake. They portray themselves as tough guys to the world. But when they see us with our guns they run away. They see a woman as just a small thing. But one of our women is worth a hundred of their men.”