Kurdish female fighters of the Women's Protection Unit (YPJ) participate in training at a military camp in Ras al-Ain city in Hasakah province
Kurdish female fighters of the Women's Protection Unit (YPJ) wage a battle to retain control over Kobani. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Kurdish women protection units have launched an operation to liberate the West Gate of the town of Kobani from Isis.

The Syrian Kurdish border town is the latest focus of Islamic State, which has rampaged across northern Syria and western and northern Iraq since the summer, swallowing up large swathes of territory.

Kobani has been under attack by 9,000 ISIS jihadists, armed with tanks and heavy artillery for nearly a month. This is the largest manned assault by Isis in its short existence. Capturing Kobani, also known under its Arabic name of Ayn Arab, would give the group a direct link between its positions in the Syrian province of Aleppo and its stronghold of Raqqa, to the east. It would also crush a pocket of Kurdish resistance and give the group full control of a large stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border.

Isisy are being opposed by just 2,000 Kurdish fighters with the YPG, the armed wing of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), without access to any heavy weaponry and short on ammunition.

The YPG is an all-female, independent militia which embrace arms along with their male comrades of the YPG, the People's Protection Units.

The first time I fired I was scared, but my love for my country was bigger than my fear. Islamic State thought women can't fight them, but here we are. We are not afraid, because we know what we are fighting for.
- ROsarine, Kurdish Fighter

Women fighters make up one third of all #Kurdish resistance, numbering between 7,000 and 10,000 of the Kurdish forces fighting in Syria.

As urban guerrilla warfare starts on the streets of Kobani, on the Turkish-Syrian border, Kurdish resistance is increasingly relying on its female fighters to save the town on what appears to be a desperate fight for survival.

The female Kurdish fighters are feared by Islamic State militants, who believe that they'll go straight to hell if they are killed by a woman. A women fighter explained "This is not a myth but reality. I personally met IS fighters face-to-face. Women fighters infringe on their psyche. They believe they won't go to paradise if they are killed by women. That is why they flee when they see women. I saw that personally at the Celaga front. We monitor their radio calls. When they hear a woman's voice on the air, they become hysterical."

The suicide attack of a Kurdish female fighter, Dilar Gencxemis, known by her nom de guerre Arin Mirkan who blew herself up in Kobani, killing several Islamic State militants has put the spotlight on the Yekineyen Parastina Jin or Women Protection Units (YPJ) the female battalion fighting IS on the frontlines.

All the women fighters in the battalion are volunteers, who go into battle under the "Hava" (friendship) motto. Rosarine, one of the women fighters, explained that she and her 'sisters in arms' get full support and encouragement from their families as they're fighting to protect the Kurdish land and its people.

Tensions in Syrian-Turkish border
Smoke rises after an US-led air strike in the Syrian town of Kobani Umit Bektas/Reuters

Rosarine said she had never fired a gun in her life before the war against Islamic State began.

"The first time I fired I was scared, but my love for my country was bigger than my fear. Islamic State thought women can't fight them, but here we are. We are not afraid, because we know what we are fighting for."

The 19-year-old, who dropped out of school to join the YPG, Kurdish People's Protection Units, saids that now she opens fire "whenever something moves [on the IS side]."

Another female soldier, Beritan, said that she has already been in many "dangerous fights," with one battle even lasting "for an entire night and day." "I wasn't really scared, I was more focused on killing the terrorists than dying myself," she explained.

Many of the women said that they'll remain soldiers after the war with IS is over as the battle for an independent Kurdish state, Kurdistan, is underway.

The Kurds are determined not to allow Kobani to fall and are fighting zealously, but they have not been able to curb advances by the more heavily armed extremists. According to the latest reports from Syria, the jihadists are taking the upper hand in the battle for the strategic town.

Kurdish fighters are said to be struggling to hold on in Kobani after Islamic State militants released footage of themselves fighting in the streets of the Syrian town. The footage, which could not be verified, showed masked men walking through deserted streets firing machine guns and rocket launchers at unseen targets.