Zubaida al-Meeki isn't your average Syrian rebel. As a woman, she stands out among her male colleagues, but she's also the first female officer to defect from President Bashar al-Assad's army, and is a member of his same religious sect, Alawite, reports al Jazeera. Al-Meeki says she has supported the uprising since its start, and defected at the earliest opportunity following months of constant surveillance. She finally got her chance earlier this year when rebel fighters occupied her home town.
Al-Meeki stayed in Syria for two months after her defection, then fled to Turkey, where she's been training volunteers to fight Assad's regime. Her decision has been an inspiration for her trainees and young women in Syria and might become more so with the release of an upcoming film (The Southern Heartlines) that shows her training rebels, notes al Jazeera. "The revolution gave dignity to the Syrian people and gave minorities a sense of belonging to one country," al-Meeki says. "All of the sects in Syria have suffered so much under this regime. When the regime shells towns, the shells do not discriminate between a sect and the other."