Asia Ramazan Antar was one of the most famous faces of the fight against ISIS, but now the 19-year-old dubbed the “Kurdish Angelina Jolie” is dead after sacrificing her life to stop a trio of ISIS suicide bombers.
Antar was a soldier with the famed Syrian Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), an all-woman force that had been taking the fight to ISIS in the war-torn country. She gained fame for her youthful good looks and her apparent similarity to actress Angelina Jolie, as well as her feminist stance in a region where women are often oppressed.
But Antar’s short life came to an end this week when she stopped a trio of bomb-strapped cars making their way to the Kurdish front lines in Syria. As the Times reported, Antar and her fellow YPJ fighters went on the offensive, taking out two of the cars. The third car was able to get closer to the Kurdish fighters, exploding and killing Asia Ramazan Antar.
“She and her fellows blew up two of them but the last was very close to her when it exploded,” said Commander Shirin Abdullah, a spokeswoman for the YPJ.
Antar had been part of a unit guarding the village of al-Yashli, which remained protected after the ISIS suicide bombing was thwarted.
Asia Ramazan Antar first gained fame in western media for her good looks, but those close to the teenage fighter said there was much more to her life. Antar, who was reportedly forced into marriage as a teenager but divorced after three months, joined the all-women Kurdish military unit in 2014 to free Syrian women from patriarchal domination, the International Business Times reported.
RIP Kurdish fighter Asia Ramazan Antar she was 19 fighting ISIS to free women of her village from the patriarchy pic.twitter.com/hPVyNEYSpD
— zacry deck (@zacdeck) September 9, 2016
“She always said that her battles against Daesh [ISIS] were battles against the ugliness of their views and to build a better life,” Abdullah said.
Other details of Asia Ramazan Antar’s death were not available, though it appears she was killed sometime in late August. Her death was first announced on the “We want Freedom For Kurdistan” Facebook page, with an announcement that she was “martyred in a battle against Daesh.”
Antar’s death quickly became a story of international interest, with news outlets in Europe and the United States writing about her life and death.
Very sorry to hear of death of Asia Ramazan Antar. RIP brave warrior.pic.twitter.com/GZVQAJYUD8
— Neil Wilby (@Neil_Wilby) September 8, 2016
And Antar’s death comes as Kurdish and other coalition forces have pushed ISIS close to its breaking point. After the militant group spread quickly across Iraq and Syria in 2014 in lightning-quick assaults that left tens of thousands of people dead — including unarmed civilians and rival religious sects — ISIS has slowly lost its hold over the region.
As the Wall Street Journal noted, the terrorist group’s key positions have been wiped out as a coalition of opposing forces close in on all sides. It will now be a matter of time before ISIS is wiped out completely, the report claimed.
“It is easy to think that Islamic State is still on the march. It isn’t. Over the past year, the territory under its control—once roughly the size of the U.K.—has shrunk rapidly in both Iraq and Syria. Islamic State has lost the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and the northern Syrian countryside bordering on Turkey. Its militants in Libya were ousted in recent weeks from their headquarters in Sirte. In coming months, the group will face a battle that it is unlikely to win for its two most important remaining centers—Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.”
Even as the fight draws ever closer to an end, supporters of Asia Ramazan Antar are taking efforts to ensure that her death would not be in vain. A number of groups have hailed Antar as a hero for taking a stand and taking up arms when she was just 17-years-old, while others have called the feminist fighter a martyr.
[Photo by Jake Simkin/AP Images]