Several towns and villages in northern Syria liberated from ISIS this week
This is the joyful moment a woman literally casts off ISIS rule by taking off her terrorist-imposed black niqab in front of fellow liberated villagers in northern Syria.
The strict dress code implemented by ISIS in their conquered areas in Syria and Iraq dictates that all women be covered from head to toe in black, covering their faces with a veil.
Images of women celebrating their freedom by no longer covering their faces in black veils are flowing out of Aleppo, where several villages and towns have been liberated from ISIS this week
The unnamed woman is seen cheering as she removes the full-face black niqab to reveal a bright purple hijab underneath.
Other women in the village on the outskirts of Manbij, Aleppo, stand next to her, all wearing coloured dresses with their hands and faces exposed.
On Thursday, Khadija Abdu Al-Muotee from liberated Abu Qalqal, south of Manbij, also cast off the ISIS rules, and swore to never wear black again.
‘Now I will only wear red!’ an exhilarated Mrs Abdu Al-Muotee told Ara News after her town in northern Syria was freed from ISIS this week.
Celebrating the freedom of her home, Mrs Abdu Al-Muotee can be seen wearing a red leopard-print hijab decorated with flowers over a leopard-print dress with red patterns.
‘They forced us to cover our faces with the Islamic veil and threatened to kill us,’ she adds.
Video from Abu Qalqal shows women and children dressed in colourful clothes and adults no longer covering their faces in full niqab.
The crowd can be heard chanting ‘We are freed! We are freed!’
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab alliance, have liberated several villages and small towns on the edges of Manbij, cutting of an important supply route.
Manbij is strategic town held by ISIS that serves as a waypoint between the Turkish border and ISIS’s self-declared ‘capital’ of Raqqa.
ISIS has come under growing pressure on various fronts in Syria and Iraq, where it established its self-declared ‘caliphate’ in 2014.
The terrorists lost control Friday of a vital supply artery when Arab-Kurdish forces completely surrounded a key jihadist-held town.
‘The SDF cut off the last road from Manbij to the Turkish border,’ said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group.
Manbij lies at the heart of the last stretch of territory along Turkey’s border still under ISIS control, and was a key point on the jihadists’ supply line from Turkey.
Other secondary roads to the frontier are more dangerous and difficult to access, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The US envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition backing the SDF, Brett McGurk, confirmed the road had been severed.
‘ISIL terrorists now completely surrounded with no way out,’ he wrote on Twitter.
This week the SDF, backed by coalition air strikes, cut the road north out of Manbij to the ISIS-held border town of Jarabulus, which the jihadists had used as a transit point for fighters, money and weapons.
The SDF also blocked the road south out of Manbij heading to ISIS’s de facto capital of Raqa.
‘For the jihadists to reach the Turkish border from Raqa, they now have to take a route that is more dangerous because of regime troops nearby and Russian air strikes,’ Abdel Rahman said.
Russia launched air strikes in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria in September.
Thousands of residents have fled Manbij – held by ISIS since 2014 – but jihadists who evacuated their families stayed to defend the town, the Observatory said.
About 20,000 people are still living in the town, which had a pre-war population of about 120,000 — mostly Arabs, but about a quarter Syrian Kurds.
Last month, the SDF launched attacks on two fronts from the north of Raqa province towards Manbij and in direction of the ISIS-held town of Tabqa on the same vital supply line further south.
Regime troops backed by Russian air strikes have also pushed an offensive to the southwest of Tabqa.
Moscow and Washington — despite backing different sides in Syria’s five-year conflict — have both focused efforts on fighting the jihadist group.