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Review of "No free steps to heaven" - 4Corners film of Kurdish women soldiers fighting ISIS

Itai Anghel: No Free Steps to Heaven (Four Corners, No April 27, 2015.) This is an amazing video showing how female Kurdish fighters claim they are causing ISIS fighters to turn and run. Although the female soldiers are obviously well-trained, effective, and brave, they say that ISIS soldiers run away because they believe that if they are killed by a woman, they will go straight to hell. If they are killed in battle by men, they think they will go to heaven. Two prisoners identified as captured ISIS soldiers affirm that this is true.

The video makes clear that the Turkish Government (Australia's ally) is allowing foreigners to join ISIS via Turkey using connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. President Erdogan of Turkey is said to be a great sympathiser with the Muslim Brotherhood, indeed he has been described as a deluded fanatic by the Syrian president. (See CNN interview.) See also, ""Turkey appears to have overlooked the anger bubbling among its own Kurds towards its Syria policy."". Source:
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/01/how-turkey-misread-kurds-201511910421859659.html

Unfortunately the narration of the video curtly damns Bashar al-Assad as suppressor of Kurds, whereas the truth is complex. Some Kurds in Syria have citizenship, others have work permits, others lack these rights. It depends on when they came to Syria, where from, and other historic circumstances. On the 20th of April, however, Syrian Minister for Information, Omran al-Zoubi, indicated that President Bashar al-Assad's government is willing to accept Kurdish autonomy in Syrian Kurdistan to the north, where much of the fighting against ISIS has taken place. Source: Source: http://ekurd.net/assad-regime-ready-to-accept-kurdish-autonomy-in-syrian-kurdistan-2015-04-20 and http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/130320151 (Some interesting comments under this article.)

There are problems of trust with some Kurds because of Israel's investment in Kurdish territory, notably in Iraq. Israel is suspected of divisive activities against Palestinians in Yarmouk in Damascus and elsewhere. Syria is the only country that gives full rights to Palestinians. This is probably a major reason why it is thought to be a target of Israel/US demonization and military undermining. The film about the Kurdish women fighters was made by an Israeli.

No Free Steps to Heaven by Itai Anghel

(Source: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2015/04/27/4222860.htm

Meet the women taking up arms against Islamic State.

"We are ISIS's nightmare." Ahin, female Kurdish guerrilla

"They should fear me... What I have and they don't is a purpose worth fighting for... I'm here to protect my existence." Zozan, female Kurdish guerrilla

These highly effective female fighters are taking on Islamic State forces in northern Iraq and Syria as part of the Kurdish guerrilla army.

One of their senior leaders is Commander Media and she's clear about her purpose:

"For people like that even hell is not enough. My role is to make sure they get a one way ticket."

Commander Media and the story of her soldiers feature in No Free Steps to Heaven, a film that takes you right into the conflict zone as these women take charge during tense fire fights.

Through the camera of Israeli film-maker Itai Anghel, we meet young women giving up any prospect of a normal life to train and fight in tough conditions.

Sitting fireside at night in the mountains, 20-year-old Zozan says: "I am fighting to live, they are fighting to die."

Then there's newly trained Ahin on her way to join two siblings on the frontline. Anghel asks if she is afraid of ISIS. Her reply: "On the contrary they are afraid of us."

These female guerrillas also engage in psychological warfare. As they go into battle they taunt the ISIS fighters, who believe dying in combat will lead them to heaven and 72 virgins, but not if they are killed by a woman.

Anghel also meets ISIS soldiers captured by the Kurds. They chillingly boast about the pleasure they take in killing their enemies. One claims to have beheaded at least 70 people.

As an Israeli, Anghel went undercover to film these close encounters. A friend of murdered American journalist James Foley, Anghel was well aware of the dangers facing journalists in the region. Using trusted contacts within the Kurdish forces, his journey provides a fascinating insight into the fight against ISIS.

NO FREE STEPS TO HEAVEN, reported by Itai Anghel and presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air on Monday 27th April at 8.30pm on ABC. It is replayed on Tuesday 28th April at 10.00am and Wednesday 29th April at midnight. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners

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You may be interested in the claims of a leader within the Kurdish Australian community. (See below) This was reported in an article in "the Saturday Paper" about the death of an Australian who joined the Kurdish forces.

"But Kurdish groups in Australia say they actively discourage Australians joining their ranks. They have been keen to use Johnston’s situation to build a case for greater humanitarian and Australian military support for the Kurds and the opening of channels for this aid between Turkey and Syria. Australian Kurds are also campaigning to have the Kurdistan Workers’ Party delisted as a terrorist organisation here, a move that would prevent those supporting the PKK being prosecuted under some anti-terrorism legislation.

“We recognise the sacrifice Ashley made of his life for our cause. Ashley was a good person who just felt the Kurdish people needed help,” said Abdul Wahab Talibani, secretary of the Kurdish Association in Sydney.

“The Kurdish people have a big problem … ISIS was established by Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq, purely to fight the creation of our nation. But we have over 40 million Kurds who are ready to fight … our people are more than capable. We need weapons and tanks … but we don’t need others to come and fight.”

The AFP has expressed concerns a martyr’s memorial may encourage further recruits. Opinions also remain divided over whether delisting the PKK as a terrorist organisation would lure other recruits."

The claim by a supposed 'leader' of the Australian Kurdish community that "ISIS was established by Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq, purely to fight the creation of our nation" is an absurd libel against the governments of Syria, Iran and Iraq.

Only those kept ignorant of the facts of the conflicts in Syria could possibly not know that ISIS is a creation of the Arab dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to overthrow the secular government of Syria. That terrible war, which commenced in March 2011 has already cost the lives of 220,000 Syrians. In that war the Kurds in northern Syria have so far been allied with the Syrian government (although in the 4 Corners program of 27 April 2014, No Free Steps to Heavenreviewed on candobetter and available on iview until 25 May – it is a concern that the program reporter was from Israel, itself now overtly supporting the Syrian 'rebels' who are clearly fighting on the same side as ISIS).