Virtually every YPG fighter has a rule: Save the last bullet for yourself. In the war against ISIS, which they call the Daash, it is far better to choose your own way out rather than be captured by the jihadists and their so-called Islamic State.

One source on the ground in Rojava (Kurdish-held Syria) told me that he once arranged an exchange of fallen fighters with the Daash. In the middle of a battlefield, they met in an abandoned house where both the YPG and Daash fighters could kill everyone inside if someone tried to pull a fast one. The YPG was trading seven dead Daash for four dead YPG fighters. When the Daash came inside, they brought five black garbage bags, dumped them on the ground, recovered their dead fighters, and quickly drove off.

The YPG leader knew something was wrong. The bodies of the three female soldiers had been sexually mutilated. The male fighter was worse off, his body parts tossed into two separate bags. When the YPG commander opened the bag, “All I saw was legs.” He also told me that when female YPG members are captured, the Daash are known to torture and rape them over open commo nets so that the YPG can hear. Most of the fighters simply turn off their radios at that point.

As disgusting as the war crimes committed by the Daash are, don’t think that the YPG fighters, including the women, are deterred.