Agence France Presse
BEIRUT: Daesh (ISIS) has imposed an “Afghan-style” dress code on men in its Syrian stronghold Raqqa to help its fighters blend into the civilian population, activists said Monday.
“For more than two weeks, Afghan-style clothing ... has been imposed by Daesh,” said Abu Mohammad, an activist with “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.”
“Anyone who does not comply faces prison and a fine,” he told AFP.
The new restriction comes as a Kurdish-Arab alliance of fighters nears Raqqa, backed by the U.S.-led coalition launching airstrikes against Daesh.
The rule “is an attempt to make it harder for airplanes and the Kurdish forces ... to distinguish between civilians and Daesh members,” Abu Mohammad said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the new rule in Raqqa.
“[Daesh] has imposed Afghan-style dress on residents of Raqqa so that informants giving coordinates to the U.S.-led coalition will not be able to distinguish between civilians and fighters,” Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman told AFP.
Abu Mohammad said there was a “state of alert” in Raqqa, with new checkpoints springing up and Daesh arresting anyone who describes the situation as dire.
“Prices are skyrocketing and there are no electricity or water,” he told AFP.
The Observatory also said civilians and the families of Daesh fighters were attempting to flee into Raqqa province from neighboring Aleppo, where Daesh is under assault in the east.
“Thousands of families in recent days have tried to reach the administrative borders of Raqqa province, along with around 120 families of fighters and commanders of Daesh,” the activist group said.
The Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces alliance is 8 kilometers from Raqqa to the northeast, according to the Observatory.
It said Daesh was preventing civilians from entering the province “but granted families of its fighters” a document allowing “passage to Raqqa city by boat as ground transportation is now impossible because the bridges across the Euphrates have been destroyed.”