Isis fanatics 'fear being killed by a woman will deprive them of virgins in paradise'
Women fighters joining ranks of Kurdish peshmerga forces hold particular power over male extremists promised 72 virgins if they die in battle
The increasing number of female soldiers taking to the front line against extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) is sowing fear in their ranks that they will be denied their prize in paradise, according to Ed Royce, who chairs the US House International Relations Committee.
"These Isil soldiers apparently believed that if they were killed in battle, they went to paradise as long as they were killed by a man," he told The New York Post, citing reporters of Kurdish female fighters laughing as they repelled attacks by the extremist group.
"And these female soldiers were communicating their satisfaction with the fact that they had taken the fight to ISIL and had stopped the advance, turned back the advance - slayed a number of these fighters, who would then run away.
Koranic verses or poetry promising 72 virgins in paradise to jihadists who die in battle have been used frequently by radical imams and extremist groups as a recruitment tool.
Women have long been a feature of Kurdish peshmerga forces. Now many from threatened towns and villages are signing up to join all-women units to fend off Isil forces who are threatening to overrun their homeland.
"We are being trained to use snipers, Kalashnikovs, rocket propelled grenades and hand grenades," a woman from the minority Yazidi community told The Telegraph earlier this month in the Sinjar mountain range.
Isil forces have overrun large areas of Iraq and control significant territory in neighbouring Iraq, imposing their harsh version of Islamic law. For women that means tough restrictions, such as bans on visiting markets or leaving the house without a headscarf.
They certainly are not allowed to fight.
Tekoshin, a 27-year-old female Kurdish soldier, fighting in northern Iraq recently told AFP she had joined the struggle to protect women's rights.
She said many women knew the power they held over their opposition.
"I think [they] were more afraid of us than of the men," she said.
"They believe they'll go to hell if they die at a woman's hands."