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Women burn burqas and men shave beards to celebrate liberation from Isis in Syria

After liberation by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a survivor cries: ‘May these clothes they forced us to wear be damned!’ 

Greg Wilford
Saturday 22 July 2017 14:20 BST
Liberated from Isis, women burn their burqas and men shave off their beards

Syrian civilians celebrated their escape from an Isis stronghold in Raqqa by burning burqas, which they were forced to wear under the group’s oppressive rule.

A group of women pulled off the black robes over their dresses and set them alight after their families were liberated from the city in the north of Syria on Thursday.

They cursed the strict dress code imposed by Isis, who order women to cover their faces and wear loose-fitting gowns over their bodies.

Syrian women after being freed from the Isis stronghold in Raqqa (YPG Press Office Twitter)

Emotional survivors were filmed stamping on the garments after they were helped to freedom by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance dominated by Kurdish fighters.

One woman cried: “Give me a lighter, I’m going to burn this. May these clothes they forced us to wear be damned!”

Another civilian pointed to a woman’s black robes and said: “Burn these, may Allah burn them. They burned my father, they burned my father.”

‘Burn these, may Allah burn them. They burned my father’ (YPG Press Office Twitter)

She added: “I wish he was with us now in this happy time.”

Small children gathered around a woman who said: “They killed my father. They killed my husband. They fired a mortar at my house. My husband was outside, he was hit and died.”

A man told a barber to shave off the long beard he was forced to grow under Isis rule, saying: “Cut it all off just to spite them.”

Men have cut off beards they were forced to grow under Isis rule (YPG Press Office Twitter)

The families were civilians from Raqqa who were liberated by the SDF and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Rojava-Northern Syria Federation, who released the video.

The SDF launched a final assault to drive Isis out of its stronghold of the city last month, and have spearheaded efforts against the group in north-east Syria.

On Saturday, Syrian warplanes carried out air strikes against Isis in an area of countryside east of Raqqa and close to where the US-backed forces operate, according to Syrian state TV which cited a military source.

The attacks in the town of Maadan and village of Bir al-Sabkhawi, near the provincial boundary with Deir al-Zor governorate, “destroyed several bases and vehicles” belonging to the Islamist group, the source said.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said it was the first time in several weeks that the Syrian military had launched an attack in that area.

The Syrian army has active front lines with Isis in Raqqa’s western countryside, where it has recaptured territory from the jihadists.

But air strikes in the east take the fight closer to where the US-backed SDF are operating.

The Syrian army, backed by Russian warplanes, is separately fighting the jihadists further west, but has also carried out air raids in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor provinces.

The SDF accused Syrian government forces of bombing their positions in June, one of several incidents that raised tension between the US on one side and Syria and Russia on the other.

It was not immediately clear how close Saturday’s air strikes came to SDF positions, but they were within miles of SDF-controlled territory.

Additional reporting by agencies.

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