The number of women joining Iraq's Shia militia has risen to more than 3,000, as the country's military continues to make inroads into Islamic State-held territories, according to reports on Tuesday (22 August).
"Muslim bin Aqeel Brigades" was established by Inam Badr Sueaadi, a lawyer and former member of the Hashd al-Shaabi's women support committee. She was, until recently, a member of the Committee on Women's support for the militias.
More women are taking on roles such as running media outlets, boosting morale and taking care of catering, said a source close to the government-backed paramilitary forces.
Most of the female soldiers are either divorced or widows and wives of militia, some of whom were killed fighting extremists and others are still involved in the conflict.
"We help out behind the scenes and we are well respected by the troops," militiawoman Suhad Jasim told The New Arab.
"The pictures of us on the front line that have been posted on social media have inspired many young men to get off their couches and enlist in the Hashd al-Shaabi," the 31-year-old added.
After the fall of Mosul, Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa requesting that all able-bodied men to join the fight against Islamic State (Isis). Women also answered the battle cry, calling themselves the "Zeinabs of the Hashd", which is considered controversial by some in Iraqi society.
Tribal leaders in southern Iraq were not comfortable with females being present, saying it was alien to their culture. Shiekh Hussein al-Otaibi said: "This is not pleasant, it goes against our traditional customs to have women walking around with men on the battle lines."
"The military situation on the ground does not require women because they do not directly take part in the fight against IS (Daesh)," Otaibi added, according to the New Arab.
Others were more welcoming about women on the battlefield. Hashd al-Shaabi fighter Baqir al-Ziadi said it was a positive move in challenging gender roles. "Our Mujaheddin sisters and mothers are fighting alongside us to the best of their abilities."