“I miss Limar and Gabriella and worry that they must be hungry, thirsty and cold. But I try to tell them I’m fighting to protect their future”.
Those were the words of a 36-year-old mother, Babylonia, who left behind her two children and, job as a hairdresser to join a Christian female militia battling against the Islamic State group in Syria.
Babylonia, from the Syriac Christian minority in the northeast, believes she is making the future safe for her children.
She belongs to a small, recently created battalion of Syriac Christian women in Hasakeh province who are fighting IS.
They are following in the footsteps of Syria’s other main female force battling the jihadists — the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units or YPG.
So far the new force is small, with around 50 graduates so far from its training camp in the town of Al-Qahtaniyeh, also known as Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish.
But the “Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers” — the area between the Tigris and Euphrates waterways historically inhabited by Syriacs — is teeming with women eager to prove their worth against IS.
It was actually Babylonia’s husband who encouraged her to leave Limar, nine, and six-year-old Gabriella and join the unit whose first recruits graduated in August.
Himself a fighter, he urged her to take up arms to “fight against the idea that the Syriac woman is good for nothing except housekeeping and make-up”, she said.
Syriac Christians belong to the eastern Christian tradition and pray in Aramaic. They include both Orthodox and Catholic branches, and constitute around 15 percent of Syria’s 1.2 million Christians.
Before the conflict began in March 2011, Christians from some 11 different sects made up around five percent of the population.