Battle-hardened women fighting alongside Kurdistan's rugged Peshmerga are striking fear into the hearts of Islamic State fighters, many of whom reportedly believe getting killed by a female will bar them from heaven.
The women, fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, also known as the PKK, told Stars and Stripes they have an intense interest in killing the bloodthirsty marauders who have beheaded Christians, raped women and sold females into slavery across a treacherous swath of Iraq and Syria.
"Everywhere they go they kill and do bad things in the name of Islam," said Zekia Karhan, 26, a female guerrilla from Turkey. "They captured a lot of women and they are selling them in Syria for $100. They rape women and behead them in the name of Islam."
Karhan is a member of PKK, the leftist Kurdish group classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and NATO. She and others ave flocked to the front lines in the all-out effort to retake Iraqi cities and towns from Islamic State.
Another female PKK fighter from Turkey, Felice Budak, 24, told Stars and Stripes she smells fear on the enemy. Islamic State fighters “are very scared of death because they are only here to kill people,” she said. “I don't mind doing it over and over again. I've already fought in Turkey, Iran and Syria.”
The extremists are terrified of being killed by the opposite sex, Karhan said. In northern Iraq, it is said that the Islamic State fighters believe that they won’t be admitted to heaven if they are killed by a woman.
"Nobody knows if there is heaven or hell," Karhan said. "How can they know they will get 27 virgins? To me Kurdistan is heaven and Kurdish women are angels. Heaven is no place for terrorists."
PKK Commander Tekosher Zagros said his fighters deserve credit for fighting the Islamic State. But the PKK has not received support from the Iraqi government mainly because it is still designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and NATO.
"We understand it is because of Turkey," he said. "Turkey is your friend. But you can see now that we are fighting the terrorists. It is clear now who are the terrorists."