SURUC, Turkey: Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State group (IS) jihadists for the Syrian town of Kobane employed a new tactic when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in an attack claimed to have killed dozens of militants.
The young woman, a fulltime fighter with the Syria-based Kurdish rebel group the People’s Protection Units (YPG), killed herself in the attack on Sunday, Kurdish sources told AFP.
Her name in Kurdish was Dilar Gencxemis but she went under the nom-de-guerre of Arin Mirkan, the YPG said in a statement.
She was from the Syrian town of Afrin of Aleppo province of northern Syria, just south of the Turkish border.
With Kurdish fighters under increasing pressure from the IS jihadists seeking to seize Kobane, this is the first time a suicide bomber has been used by Kurdish forces in the conflict.
“I don’t know her exact age but she was above 20. She was a fighter from the YPG,” Mustafa Bali, a Kurdish official in Kobane told an AFP correspondent in the Turkish border town of Suruc by telephone.
“She threw many grenades at IS insurgents. After that, she blew herself up,” he said, adding that dozens of IS fighters were killed in her assault.
The Britain-based group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria, also confirmed the attack by the female suicide bomber.
The YPG issued a statement carried by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency, extolling Mirkan’s bravery and indicating more suicide attacks were possible.
“She killed dozens of gang members and demonstrated the YPG fighters’ determined resistance,” it said.
“If necessary, all YPG fighters will follow her example, and the gangs will not be allowed to achieve their aim of taking Kobane,” it added.
Defying air strikes by the US-led coalition, IS militants have advanced to positions just a few hundred meters from Kobane and just a few kilometers from the Turkish borders.
Kurds in neighboring Turkey anxiously watching the fighting for Kobane—known as Ain al-Arab in Arabic—also praised her actions.
“The woman blew herself up for me, for the Kurds and for Kobane,” 26-year-old Ahmed Mustafa said.
“There are so many people who can explode themselves for Kobane. Kobane is the center of Syrian Kurds,” said Mustafa, one of the estimated 186,000 people from the Kobane region who fled the fighting into neighboring Turkey.