Kurdish forces have been fighting the Islamic State since the al Qaeda offshoot captured large tracts of land in Iraq and Syria. Among the groups fighting the Islamic militants is the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which took up arms to carve out an independent Kurdish homeland within Turkey in 1984.
The battle against the Islamic State has drawn many women to the frontline. Women fighters at a PKK militia base on Mount Sinjar in northwest Iraq, just like their male counterparts, have to be ready for action at any time.
Many of the women have cut links with their families back home and the fighters come from all corners of the Kurdish region that spans Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.
Reuters photographer Asmaa Waguih travelled to Mount Sinjar, Iraq, last month to document the life of women fighters at a PKK militia base. The Sinjar area was the scene of a fierce Islamic State offensive last year in which hundreds of people from Iraq’s Yazidi minority sect were killed and thousands, captured and raped by Islamic State fighters.