Women liberated from Isis in Syria take off face veils and burn them

Villagers were freed by Syrian Democratic Forces who, unlike other opposition groups, do not enforce religious dress 

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Thursday 23 February 2017 18:21
Women liberated from Isis controlled areas take off their veils and burn them in defiance

Syrian women liberated from Isis control have been filmed burning their veils as they reclaim their freedom.

Footage released by local media showed a group of jubilant women removing their face veils and stamping on them before setting fire to the fabric with a lighter and smoking cigarettes in celebration.

The women had been liberated from an area around Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with support from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), who are leading an ongoing offensive in the province.

Human Security Centre (HSC) director Julie Lenarz told The Independent the women were only able to remove their veils as the SDF and YPG, unlike other rebel groups in Syria, do not enforce religious dress codes.

“These people were under the control of Isis who forced women to wear religious clothing, men were banned from smoking, children were not supposed to be playing and dancing in the street,” she said.

“These are women who would have worn a headscarf or Muslim clothing but not a full face veil, so they see it as a real liberation.”

Ms Lenarz said it was common to see such footage coming from Arab areas liberated by the SDF.

“The HSC estimates about 70 per cent of opposition groups in Syria also follow an Islamist or Jihadist ideology, such as al-Nusra or Ahrar al-Sham, so they will still enforce the wearing of religious dress like Isis,” she said.

“This footage from the ongoing offensive around Deir Ezzor is the first time SDF has entered that particular area.”

The US-backed advance into the province is part of an operation to encircle and ultimately capture its de facto capital of Raqqa to the north of the country.

It came as Iraqi forces recaptured eastern Mosul from Isis last month, and launched a new offensive on the group in densely-populated western Mosul this week.

However, some are concerned the militant group will race to Deir Ezzor, 340 miles to the west, if it is ousted from Mosul to support insurgent forces there.

According to a military source, the SDF alliance has recaptured some 15 villages from Isis militants in their incursion into the province, with their main aim to cut Isis supply lines from Raqqa to Deir Ezzor.

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