ISIS victims burn their hated niqabs on the street and joyfully reveal their faces in public for the first time in two years after Muslim fanatics are forced out of city of Manbij.
Syrians have been pictured celebrating after they were liberated from ISIS rule in a northern stronghold in the country. A woman was seen smiling in Manbij as she burned a niqab she was forced to wear by the Islamic State regime while another man could not stop beaming as he had his beard cut.
The outpour of emotion came after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an Arab-Kurdish force backed by the US, expelled most of the terror group's troops from the town last week.
As the ISIS fighters left the town, they packed the civilians into cars to prevent the SDF from attacking them. ISIS, which previously held the city for two-and-a-half years since seizing it in January 2014, took around 2,000 civilians to use as 'human shields' as they fled.
'While withdrawing from a district of Manbij, Daesh (IS) jihadists abducted around 2,000 civilians from Al-Sirb neighbourhood,' said Sherfan Darwish, spokesman for the Manbij Military Council, a key component of the SDF. 'They used these civilians as human shields as they withdrew to Jarabulus, thus preventing us from targeting them,' he added.
Al-Sirb is a district in northern Manbij on the way to the IS-held border town of Jarabulus in Aleppo province near the border with Turkey. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources on the ground to cover the conflict, also reported that IS had abducted around 2,000 civilians as they fled Manbij. It said the civilians were placed in hundreds of cars that then headed for Jarabulus.
Darwish said the civilians who were taken were residents of Al-Sirb and other districts, including a central neighbourhood known as the 'security quarter' in the centre of Manbij. Tens of thousands of people lived in Manbij before the assault started in May. The United Nations has said that more than 78,000 people have been displaced since then.
Manbij had served as a key transit point along IS's supply route from the Turkish border to Raqa, the de facto capital of its self-styled Islamic 'caliphate'. The Britain-based Observatory says that the battle for Manbij has claimed the lives of at 437 civilians -- including 105 children -- and killed 299 SDF fighters and 1,019 jihadists.