Overjoyed at the city’s liberation from the Islamic State, a woman ripped off the black outer garment she had been forced to wear by the extremist group, as US-backed forces took control of Syria’s Raqqa.
In a video posted by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) on Saturday, the woman welcomes her Kurdish rescuers, hugging them and thanking them, as well as offering prayers along with her family.
All women living under the reign of IS were forced to wear the loose black outer garment, known as an abaya, as part of the terror group’s strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
The fighters battled hundreds of Islamic State group jihadists holed up in the last pockets of Raqqa, as the former extremist stronghold stood on the verge of capture.
Intermittent artillery fire could be heard Monday and thick columns of smoke rose above the devastated city, as US-led coalition air strikes targeted remaining jihadists.
“The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are currently waging their toughest battles yet,” Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, spokeswoman for the operation to capture the city, told AFP.
The latest fighting “will bring an end to Daesh’s presence,” she added, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
“They can choose between surrendering and dying.”
Only around 300 IS fighters are believed to remain in the devastated city, which was once the de facto Syrian capital of the jihadist group’s self-styled “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq.
“The IS elements that are still there are resisting,” Sheikh Ahmed said, adding that the fighting was centered on “fortified and heavily mined areas.”