Isis: Incredible photos show civilians celebrating freedom in Syria by cutting beards and burning burqas

Militants have been driven out of Manbij after a rebel advance backed by the US-led coalition

Lizzie Dearden
Saturday 13 August 2016 14:01 BST
Syria’s war: Manbij residents celebrate freedom from ISIL

Ecstatic Syrian civilians have been shaving off their beards, burning their burqas, smoking and dancing in the streets after being freed from Isis.

The jubilant celebrations were seen in the Syrian city of Manbij on Friday, where militants have been driven out after months of fighting by US-backed rebel groups.

Families ran through rubble-strewn streets, past the ruins of buildings destroyed in air strikes, carrying their babies and belongings.

Men jubilantly had their beards cut off as women ripped off their veils and set them on fire in an act of rebellion after years living under Isis' brutal interpretation of Sharia law.

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One middle aged man broke down in tears of relief and joy, while female fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) shared emotional hugs with civilians.

Others jumped up and down in celebration and danced, with relatives and friends running into each other’s arms.

One elderly woman was seen savouring a cigarette – an act banned under Isis and punished by flogging and even death in some of its territories.

The joyful scenes were a welcome departure from months of siege, air strikes and battles to re-take the city, which was overrun by Isis after the group ousted local rebels in January 2014.

Like other territories in the so-called Islamic State, it was the scene of brutal repression, massacres and gruesome executions including one described by a female British jihadist, Khadijah Dare.

Isis forces women to wear the burqa, which covers the entire body apart from the eyes, as part of its interpretation of Sharia law and has also made beards obligatory for men in some strongholds.

The Manbij offensive was a key priority of the US-led coalition and the city is now expected to facilitate an advance on Isis’s de-facto Syrian capital of Raqqa, which lies 80 miles away.

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