The Islamic State is putting women on the front line in an effort to hold back Iraqi forces from taking the group’s last major stronghold in western Mosul.
Massive losses have forced the terrorist group to use female fighters, according to a Sunday report by al-Arabiya. ISIS fighters have utilized any dastardly advantage they can in an attempt to maintain their hold on western Mosul, including the use of human shields and suicide bombers. These tactics have forced the two sides into a slow, methodical and deadly street-by-street fight.
Female fighters have been a prominent topic in the ongoing war against ISIS. The Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi militia groups are well-known for their female brigades, however, the fight for western Mosul appears to be ISIS’s first major use of women on the front. Women living under the so-called caliphate are often subjected to harsh restrictions and abuse.
It is unclear what roles the female ISIS fighters are playing on the battlefield, though jihadi groups are known for using women as suicide bombers. Boko Haram, an ISIS-affiliate in Nigeria, is notorious for attacking civilian targets with female suicide bombers, many of whom are suspected of being coerced into service. ISIS has stepped up the use of suicide bombers in the ongoing fight for west Mosul, sending them in waves against the Iraqi Security Forces fighting in the city’s tight streets.
The fight for Mosul started in October, and has already become one of the deadliest battlegrounds in the fight against ISIS.
“This is the most significant urban combat to take place since World War II,” Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said in late March.
Iraqi forces seized the eastern portion of Mosul in January, but the western half has proven to be a much more difficult fight, and one that does not appear to be coming to an end any time soon.
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