Meet Mayssa Abdo, the woman fighter defending Kobane against ISIS

Kurdish woman commander Mayssa Abdo, 40, on the frontlines against ISIS fighters in Kobane. -- PHOTO: PRESS TV
Kurdish woman commander Mayssa Abdo, 40, on the frontlines against ISIS fighters in Kobane. -- PHOTO: PRESS TV

Her name is Mayssa Abdo and she has set social media abuzz for her role defending the Syrian border town of Kobane against  invading Islamic fighters.

As is the custom for Kurdish fighters, Mayssa, 40, uses a pseudonym.

She is commanding the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Kobane along with Mahmud Barkhodan, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The  YPG  group has been defending Kobane, on the border with Turkey, since Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters launched an assault on Sept 16.

 "Those who know her say she is cultivated, intelligent and phlegmatic,"  Kurdish activist Mustefa Ebdi told Agence France-Presse.

"She cares for the mental state of the fighters and takes an interest in their problems," he said.

Women traditionally form a major part of Kurdish fighting forces, and they are well represented among Kurdish forces in neighbouring Turkey and Iraq.

On Oct 5, young Kurdish woman fighter Dilar Gencxemis, identified by the YPG by the nom-de-guerre of Arin Mirkan, blew herself up outside Kobane in an attack which reportedly killed dozens of ISIS militants.

Screengrab of the search results page for Mayssa Abdo on Twitter.

Social media is peppered with images of AK47-touting grandmothers, of fathers and sons and sometimes grandfathers working together to man the frontlines.

The female members of the militia have achieved significant media attention, too, even making the pages of glossy fashion magazines, wrote William Gourlay in a commentary piece for  The Conversation website.

The town of Kobane has attracted international attention as at least 160,000 people have fled across the border to Turkey. Kobane now stands as a barometer of the success – or possible failure – of the international campaign to counter ISIS.

 The United States has undertaken some air strikes in defence of Kobane, but these have not stopped ISIS’ advance.