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Islamic State imposes New Dress Code for Women

"IS considers anything related to women as tempting for men"

Veiled Women. (representational Image), Image Source- Wikimedia

Islamic State has imposed new dress codes in areas it controls in Syria, forcing women to wear only black clothes and punishing those who don’t obey, according to residents and activist groups.

For IS, any women’s clothing that is not black is considered seductive.

“They [IS] arrested me because my wife and mother had colorful clothes on,” Abu Hassan, a resident from the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, told a Syrian opposition website, All4Syria. He disguised his name for fear of retribution.

Abu Hassan said the women were in their house recently when religious police drove by and noticed their colorful clothing.

“They didn’t release me until I paid the equivalent of one gram of gold,” he told All4Syria on Wednesday.

His story could not be independently verified by VOA; but IS prohibits contact with outsiders in areas it controls.

Since gaining control of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014, IS has imposed harsh guidelines on civilians, particularly women.

In addition to penalizing women for the way they dress, IS religious police — also known as al-Hisbah, Arabic for “accountability” — have arrested a number of women for hanging laundry on rooftops.

A woman in veil and a man. Image Source- Wikimedia Commons
A woman in veil and a man. Image Source- Wikimedia Commons

IS “considers anything related to women as tempting for men,” said a resident in the IS de-facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, who insisted on anonymity. He told VOA that in order for his wife and two adult daughters to leave the house, he must accompany them.

He also recalled what happened to his ailing neighbor who let his wife visit her sister in a nearby district with no male escort.

“They gave him 40 lashes in public in addition to several days in prison,” he said.

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As the U.S.-led international coalition ramped up its bombing campaign against IS positions in Syria and Iraq, IS recently increased its already strict moral codes, local activists say.

“The bombing campaign has affected Daesh [IS] on so many levels,” said Hussam Eisa, a member of “Raqqa is being Slaughtered Silently,” a group that reports on IS abuses in Syria.

Eisa said the U.S.-led coalition, Russian and Syrian government airstrikes against IS have made the group look weak in the eyes in locals. “And therefore, Daesh is desperately taking these measures,” Eisa said, using an Arabic term for IS.

Despite these airstrikes, IS militants have made some advances in government-held areas of oil-rich Deir Ezzor in recent weeks. According to local reports, IS controls much of the area around a military air base that it has besieged for months. (Source: VOA)

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  • Akanksha Sharma

    They need to change their mentality. They cannot force their religious beliefs on others.

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Civilians Who Fled Afrin Suffer from Dire Humanitarian Conditions

People sit in a truck with their belongings in the north east of Afrin, Syria, March 15, 2018. VOA

Thousands of civilians who fled the city of Afrin are enduring dire conditions after they reached Syrian-controlled areas south of the Afrin district.

“More than 2,000 people reached the towns of Nubl and Zahraa from Afrin in the past 24 hours, raising the number of total civilians in the two towns to 16,000. Many are suffering from tragic conditions,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights website.

Turkish media announced the control of Afrin on Sunday, after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) withdrew from the city and thousands of civilians were evacuated — 59 days after the launch of Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish military operation in Afrin.

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The Observatory said Nubl and Zahraa were struggling to provide shelter and food for the large numbers of displaced people pouring into the towns.

Sumama Al-Ashkar, a journalist in Nubl and Zahraa, told VOA that people were residing in houses, mosques, schools, public halls and warehouses.

“The civilians in Nubl and Zahraa are able to get some aid and services, but those who went to Tal Rifat in northern Aleppo are struggling to survive,” he said.

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The U.S. State Department issued a statement on Monday expressing deep concern about reports coming from the predominantly Kurdish city in the past 48 hours.

“It appears the majority of the population of the city … evacuated under threat of attack from Turkish military forces and Turkish-backed opposition forces. This adds to the already concerning humanitarian situation in the area, with United Nations agencies reporting a displaced population in or from Afrin district in the hundreds of thousands, who now require immediate shelter and other assistance to meet basic needs,” the statement said.

Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army soldiers walk in city center of Afrin, northwestern Syria, March 18, 2018. VOA

Destruction and looting

A number of reports circulated in the media said Turkish-backed forces were destroying and looting public and private properties after they entered the city.

The Afrin media center said once the Turkish-backed fighters reached the town center, they destroyed a statue placed in the center of the city that represents Kurdish cultural figure Kawa the Ironsmith.

“Kawa the Ironsmith is a major historical symbol for the Kurdish people, as it is linked to the most important Middle Eastern holiday, the Nawruz,” Afrin Media Center said.

Footage coming from Afrin also showed Turkish-backed fighters pillaging homes, shops and military sites amidst chaos. They were seen carrying food, electronic devices, civilian cars, farmers’ tractors and livestock.

Members of the Syrian opposition condemned the looting and destruction of the city and called for holding the looters responsible for their acts.

The General Military Staff of the Syrian Interim Government, an alternative government of the Syrian opposition, issued a statement Monday calling for the Turkey-backed Syrian rebels to protect civilians and their properties, and to respect religious and ethnic installations in Afrin.

Turkish soldiers, positioned in the city center of Afrin, northwestern Syria, March 19, 2018, a day after they took the control of the area. VOA

In a comment to CNN, Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Erdogan, did not deny the reports of looting but said the actions were committed by some groups who disobeyed their commanders. He said reports were being investigated.

Guerilla war

On Sunday, Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim told ANF, the Kurdish News Agency, that the fight in Afrin entered a new phase, where the YPG and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) will continue to resist in the district.

Muslim added that the civilians had to leave the city for their own protection and vowed to step up the fight.

“The existence of civilians in the city will impose a challenge for our fighters. Our enemy kills civilians and strikes hospitals, and since the Turkish offensive started, civilians were targeted. Now, the war will continue in a different way after civilians left the city,” Muslim said.

A number of humanitarian organizations and civil society groups working north and east of Syria, including the Kurdish Red Crescent, issued a joint statement calling on the international community to act.

“We plea to the international community to intervene immediately to stop these attacks and let the refugees return to their homes, protect their possessions and civil rights, and deliver aid to thousands of people [who] fled this war,” the statement said Monday. VOA