LOS ANGELES: Women were often at the forefront in the brutal house-to-house, street-to-street fighting to free Syria from the grip of Daesh. The “Daughters of Kobani” offers a compelling profile of some of the women in these units. Readers may be familiar with the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) which first received international attention in 2014 during Daesh’s siege of the Syrian border town of Kobani. In addition to the YPJ, the author also notes that after the creation of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), many Arab women joined their fight. The stories of some of these brave women are covered in the book, including one woman who survives the Daesh occupation of her town by reading the works of Naguib Mahfouz. The book’s strength lies in its ability to juggle such small details with the broad swathe of crucial battles and the lives of the women involved. The horrendous treatment of women and minority groups by Daesh is another motivation for the SDF forces that the author discusses, given the large number of women enslaved by Daesh. The book’s overall message is that, rather than becoming victims, a large number of women fought back and indeed spear-headed the ultimate defeat of Daesh as a nascent state.
Author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon spent hundreds of hours interviewing participants in the various battles of the campaign. Lemmon’s previous books have also looked at conflict issues related to women, from entrepreneurship in Afghanistan to the first women in an elite US army unit. A company founded by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea has purchased the rights to the book to develop it as a television mini-series.