She Laughed at how Absurd it Seemed

“Six of us against what was supposed to be more than 100 Daesh, but nonetheless, we jumped into a tank and off we went,” she said.

As they closed in on the battle, her unit met up with 12 Kurds who were already in position near a bridge leading into the city.

The Kurds would have to take that bridge in order to take the city.

“We spent the rest of the day fighting for that bridge, which was also the last time a sniper would take a shot at me, the bullet passing so close over my head I felt it,” she said. “We held the bridge over night while reinforcements arrived, and the next day they took the city, which by now had mostly been abandoned by Daesh.”

She briefly returned to Canada after the battle, stricken by malnutrition after having lost almost 30 pounds since joining the YPJ. But almost as soon as she returned to Vancouver, she was itching to get back to the fight in Rojava, the name given to what is considered Western Kurdistan. She went back in early September and remains with the YPJ today.

But contrary to popular belief, life in Syria isn’t all about fighting, she explained. About “95%” of her time is spent sleeping, eating, cleaning, socializing, or being on guard.

“It’s not what people expect,” she said. “We’re not constantly locked in a life or death battle with bullets and mortars flying back and forth.”

Another misconception is that the real fight is against ISIS, she said.

“The real enemy is who Daesh works for,” she said, claiming that it’s really “Turkey’s genocidal [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan… who will eventually turn Turkey into a dictatorship while trying to kill off the Kurds.”

Claims that Turkey supported the Islamic State go back more than a year, and it’s well-known that the Turkish government views the rise of Kurdish nationalism as a bigger threat to its security than the rise of ISIS.

After the Turkish military shot down a Russian plane last week, Russian leaders claimed that they have proof that Erdogan’s own family was involved in smuggling ISIS oil into Turkey. Erdogan said he would resign if that claim was proven true, and insists that his regime is working to diminish the threat of ISIS in the region. US officials said their NATO allies have been “great” in the fight against the Islamic State.

According to Bohman, Westerners who left their countries and bypassed their governments to fight ISIS are what has inspired her most since joining the YPJ.

“There aren’t many of us, but we represent a genuine concern for humanity,” she said. “We believe in doing the right thing, in stopping evil, and helping the helpless. We are the tip of a sword made up of people from all around the world who will no longer wait for their governments to fail again. We are [bringing] the change we want to see.”

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