A Kurdish pop star has filmed a music video on the Islamic State front lines in Iraq in which she is seen personally shelling Islamic State (formerly known as Isis) fighters less than 2.5km away.
Helen Abdulla, who last year received death threats after filming a raunchy music video in the streets of the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil, shot the video for her new single, Revolution, in an abandoned village near Mosul, where the Kurdish militia are currently fighting IS.
In a short clip of the single set to be released next week Abdulla – whose stage name is Helly Luv – is seen in a pink keffiyeh scarf painting the word revolution on a tank shell and then climbing into the vehicle.
Abdulla slides the shell into the tank barrel and then fires on the IS front lines just a few kilometres away. She said she had kept footage of her personally firing on the militants from inside the tank, in case it was accused of being a set up.
We were in a little village called Khazer that was attacked by Isis militants before and was abandoned. We were afraid to shoot [the video] as there were bombs left over and drove back at night because I thought it would be safer – but nothing was ever sure, she told IBTimes UK.
One day we saw on the news that they had shot a tank from the same location and it had hit Kalak - 15 minutes away from us – and killed and injured many civilians.
Abdulla said she made the video to highlight the struggle of the Kurdish peshmerga, who have been fighting IS for over a year along the porous border that separates Iraqs Kurdish region from the rest of Iraq.
As with her last video – Risking it All - she recorded the music at her home in Los Angeles but chose to film the video in Iraqi Kurdistan, from which her family fled for Finland in 1988 in the face of Saddam Husseins repression of the Kurds.
Abdulla, now 26, has been based in the US since she was 18. When she released Risking it All in 2014 she received death threats after recording a video in Erbil that saw her throw a petrol bomb, drape herself over a lion and dance with AK-47 wielding female peshmerga soldiers.
The song called for Kurdish independence from the rest of Iraq, a popular issue in Iraqi Kurdistan where 98.8% of residents voted in favour of an independent state in northern Iraq in 2005.
She said she has received similar threats after releasing the trailer, which now has over 130,000 views on YouTube.
What makes this trailer so special is the fact that I am actually inside of that tank, shooting at Isis. Like last time, I received death threats after the video, this time I have gotten them before releasing it, warning me to not publish, she said.
The Kurds have called for more support from the US and the international community in their war against IS, which has already seen 1,000 casualties and 5,000 injuries but seen the peshmerga take back some 20,000 square kilometres of ISIS-held territory.