Meet the women with guns who fought Isil in Syria - and are now battling its patriarchy

Dating service
Babilonia, 20, stands guard at the HSNB academy's entrance in northern Syria 
Babilonia, 20, one of the female HSNB fighters in Syria Credit: Sofia Barbarani

In June 2017, twenty-year-old Nisha Gawrie was deployed to the front line of one of the most vicious urban conflicts of her generation – the campaign to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from the so-called Islamic State.

One of the founding members of the first ever all-female Syriac Christian militia, the Bethnahrain Women's Protection Forces (HSNB) – Nisha was tasked with leading a unit of fighters into battle.

Founded in 2015, in response to a violent Isil attack on the historically Christian Khabour region, the HSNB became a small but key component of the Syrian Democratic Forces - the US-backed military coalition waging war against Isil in northeastern Syria.

For four months, Nisha fought...

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