Raqqa, the Islamic State force "Afghan-style" clothing to mingle combatants among civilians

Local activists report that the measure has been in force for over two weeks. Fines and imprisonment for those who do not respect the rule. The rapid advance of the Arab-Kurdish coalition, backed by US air raids, impels decision. Thousands of civilians and jihadist families fleeing the province of Aleppo.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Islamic State militias(IS) in jihadi stronghold Raqqa, in Syria, are forcing civilians to wear "Afghan" clothing according to activists and inhabitants. The aim is to mix the fighters to the crowd and protect them in case of air raids.

Abu Mohamed of the dissident movement "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently", active on social media in denouncing the jihadist violence in the city, reports that for "more than two weeks" Daesh [Arabic acronym for the SI] has imposed "an Afghan-style dress code."

"For those who do not respect the norm - he adds - there are fines and imprisonment."

The new restrictions imposed by the extremist group leaders come as the Arab-Kurdish alliance continues the march towards Raqqa, supported by US-led coalition air raids targeting IS objectives. The law, Abu Mohamed continues, "is an attempt to make it harder to hunt and for Kurdish forces ... to distinguish between civilians and members of Daesh".

According to the leader of "Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered ", a "state of maximum alert" exists in the city; every day, he explains, new checkpoints sprout up, and jihadists arrest anyone who describes the situation as disastrous. "Prices have gone through the roof - he concludes - and we lack both electricity and drinking water."

Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adds that in recent days a number of civilians and family members of the IS militants are trying to flee the province of Aleppo,. The goal is to find refuge and shelter in Raqqa province. "There are thousands of families," notes the activist, along with "about 120 families of Daesh fighters and commanders".

After the latest advances on the battlefield, the Arab-Kurdish coalition is just eight kilometers from Raqqa, in the north-east direction. IS is blocking the entrance of civilians, but allows the passage of the relatives of their militiamen. The transport takes place by water because "the overland passage is impossible due to the destruction of the Euphrates" River bridges.