LGBT supporters are fighting back against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) on the Syrian battlefield after three years of persecution in which their community suffered stonings, executions from rooftops and a deadly shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
A group of international volunteers fighting with Kurdish forces against ISIS in northern Syria have declared the first LGBT military unit created to battle the jihadi group. Its name? The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army, or TQILA. The International Revolutionary People's Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF), an anarchist movement, announced the group's creation Monday.
IRPGF is a unit in the International Freedom Battalion, a collection of foreign fighters who traveled to northern Syria to battle ISIS alongside the Kurdish militia known as the YPG, or People’s Protection Units. It was only set up in April, two months ahead of the final stage of a Kurdish-Arab offensive backed by the U.S.-led coalition to liberate the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa.
A statement posted by the group on Twitter said its members “seek to smash the gender binary and advance the women’s revolution as well as the broader gender and sexual revolution.”
It remains unknown how many personnel will be involved in the unit, and how many are members of the LGBT community. Heval Rojhilat, spokesperson for TQILA, speaking to Newsweek, would not reveal numbers for security reasons.