In an abandoned luxury apartment building in Til Kocher, Syria, a group of young women laugh, sing songs, and prepare chai tea for their guests. In the adjacent room is an arsenal of weapons ranging from American M4 rifles to Hungarian-made Dragunovs and locally manufactured Zagrov .50-caliber sniper rifles. The cheerful young women enjoying their morning compose a seven-woman sniper unit that falls under the YPJ militia currently fighting ISIS in northern Syria. If you had failed to note all the hardware lying around their arms room, you would never know that these women were snipers, and you would never guess that some of them have racked up dozens of kills.
The oldest of the group is 27, a European Kurd who returned from the diaspora when she heard reports about ISIS murdering children. The youngest of the group said she was 16, but quickly corrected herself and reported that she was actually 18. Later that day, the teenage Kurd slung the .50 caliber Zagrov over her shoulder and walked out to do some target practice.
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