The YPJ is an all-female military wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, made up of ethnic Kurds, Arabs and foreign volunteers. Emerging from the Kurdish resistance movement, the group’s numbers have grown from a single battalion in 2013, to over 24,000 fighters. Today, the YPJ says it makes up about 40% of the total Kurdish military in the region. The militia were involved and engaged in the Seige of Kobani and offensives against ISIS strongholds in Tabqa and Raqqa. After joining the guerrilla group, women must spend at least a month practicing military tactics and studying political theories from Abdullah Öcalan. The writer and philosopher is famous for his teachings on gender equality, female emancipation and self-defence. The group has been defending the Kurdish-majority city of Afrin from Turkish forces backed by Syrian rebels after they launched an offensive in mid-January. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group, an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has led an insurgency in Turkey for decades.