Margaret George Shello

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Margaret George Shello
Canfeda Margrêt Corc, yekem pêşmergeya kurd.jpg
Born1942 (1942)
DiedDecember 25, 1969(1969-12-25) (aged 26–27)
Kala-Komereyh, Iraq
MovementKurdish Democratic Party

Margaret George Shello (Syriac: ܡܪܓܪܝܬ ܓܝܘܪܓܝܣ ܫܠܘ‎), also known as Margaret George Malik,[1] was an Assyrian guerilla fighter who joined the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their fight against the Iraqi governments in the 1960s. She is commonly believed to have been the first female Peshmerga.[2]


Margret joined the ranks of Peshmerga fighting in the First Iraqi–Kurdish War at the age of 20 in 1960, and quickly asserted herself among her male comrades and was given a leading position by Mustafa Barzani in important battles such as the battle of Zawita Valley.[3]

Her non-Kurdish background allowed Shello to be accepted into the ranks of the Peshmerga, which at the time was unwelcoming to ethnically Kurdish women.[4]

Circumstances that led to her early death are still disputed. Stories about her death usually state either that she was killed by a lover who rejected a marriage proposal, or assassinated by Kurdish leaders because she asked for a leadership role[5], or because feared her rising popularity.[4] While asleep with her family in the village of Kala-Komereyh in Dohuk province, Shello was shot through a window by an unknown attacker.[3]

After her assassination, many Kurds bestowed the revered title of Dayika Kurdistan/Peshmerga (Dayika means Mother) upon her as well as legendary tales of combat with her talisman as a symbol of the Kurdish resistance. Tales of her bravery echoed throughout Kurdistan, encouraging hundreds of men and women to join the resistance and carry-on the legacy she ignited.[6]

In 2013, Shello's brother Adad Ashurseen (formerly Eduard George) visited Iraqi Kurdistan to meet with Masoud Barzani to try to find answers to Shello's assassination.

Michael M. Gunter describes Shello as "a sort of Kurdish Joan of Arc" in his Historical Dictionary of the Kurds.[5]


  1. ^ Assyrians in Iraq, Vahram Petrosian
  2. ^ "Grave of first female Peshmerga renovated". 2015-06-16. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  3. ^ a b "Mesopotamische Gesellschaft « THE FIRST FEMALE FIGHTER IN KURDISH RANKS WAS A CHRISTIAN & ASSYRIAN". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  4. ^ a b Kurda, Karam. "Beyond Kurdistan: Remembering those who lost their lives for the Kurds". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  5. ^ a b Gunter, Michael M. (2018-02-20). Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781538110508.
  6. ^ The First Female Fighter in Kurdish Ranks