Nojin, a 20-year-old fighter from northern Syria, has been a soldier since the country erupted into civil war.
Rebels linked to al-Qaeda are pushing to expand into Kurdish territory, sparking months of clashes. The fighting brought Nojin to a military post outside the city of Ras al-Ain, the last Kurdish checkpoint before area controlled by extremists.
About 15 fighters were manning the post that afternoon, most of them women.
The 29-year-old woman running the checkpoint wore a rifle slung over her shoulder and a braided ponytail running down past her waist.
Syria's Kurdish region is dominated by a political party, known by the acronym PYD, that stresses equality for men and women in both politics and war.
"For us, there is no difference between women and men," Dunya said.
Dunya also said that in the battle with extremists, having women on the front lines sent a message.
Beyond the checkpoint, on the Kurdish side, villages that had been controlled by jihadis until Kurdish fighters pushed them back still bore some signs of the fighting, a reminder of the continued threat of war.
One man gave a tour of his ransacked home — pointing out where rebels had killed his nephew, looted his possessions, and kicked over his beehives.
The man, Abdullah Cheikho Said, said his wife and children had fled to Ras al-Ain — and he couldn't convince them to return home. "My family says they are too afraid. They will not come back."