Reports of female war fighters, particularly snipers, participating in the ongoing fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria have made their rounds in the media since 2014.  Often, these reports contain pictures of a well made-up young woman posed like a swimsuit model with her rifle, and tend to originate in less-than-reputable media outlets like the UK’s Guardian or The Sun with claims about how many ISIS fighters they’ve killed.

However, as SOFREP has reported on in more than one instance, there are real women taking the fight to Islamist Extremists in the Middle East, and their experiences tend to involve more trigger time than eye liner.

Jack Murphy, our editor-in-chief and a former Green Beret, has experience with both types of female soldiers in the Middle East.  Some tend to remain in the rear for photo ops and outwardly directed propaganda (which any war fighting organization will tell you has its own benefits) and others who are battle-hardened warriors, there to fight for their people and beliefs.

I met my first female sniper in an alcove of the apartment building one night. She smiled and shook my hand. I could tell by the way she carried herself that she was a true soldier. I had met many rear-echelon types traveling through Syria who bombarded me with questions and asked to have their photograph taken. But from the way she stood and the way she talked, it was clear that she saw me as just another passerby, and she was a woman with a job to do. She was 18 years old.” Jack recounted in 2016.

A new video released by the BBC shows just such a young woman.  A Kurdish YPJ (Women’s Protection Unit) sniper is shown in the footage firing a shot from her own sniper rifle just before an enemy round impacts the wall only inches from her head.  Up until that point, this footage wouldn’t be particularly interesting as compared to all the rest of the combat footage making the rounds on the web.  Close calls, while incredibly dramatic in person, are pretty easy to find on YouTube.

It is, however, the woman’s reaction to that close call that makes this footage stand out.  Instead of frantically diving for cover, or even expressing the sort of yelp many men can’t stifle when they see a spider that close to their head, this sniper smiles, briefly sticking her tongue out as she nonchalantly squats down. She’s so unconcerned with how close she just came to death that at one point in the thirty or so second clip, she even almost stands up again as she talks, before catching herself and squatting back down.

This woman almost had her head removed from her body, and she responded with casual conversation.  Unlike so many Facebook warriors who claim to be Force Recon Delta PJs out there, she literally does smile in the face of death, before cheerfully chastising her friends for continuing to film, saying “enough, enough filming,” just before the clip ends.

While the United States continues to debate whether or not women can benefit the war effort in combat roles, the Kurds have not had any such problems – sending women into the fight with an awareness that these young ladies know exactly what’s at stake when combatting ISIS.  They also have superstition on their side: ISIS fighters are said to believe dying at the hands of a woman will buy them a one way ticket to hell…