The militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are using their full control of the northern Syrian capital of Raqa to ban mannequins in shop windows and impose a ban on men buying women’s underwear.
The Agence France-Presse reports that ISIL has banned both mannequins in store displays and the sale of underwear for women to men, as well as forbidding any woman from shopping alongside a man unless he is her husband, father, or brother. The new laws were reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The news comes amid other reports that ISIL has been gaining ground in northern Syria, despite President Bashar al-Assad reclaiming control over many opposition strongholds, including the city of Homs. Much of Assad’s recent success has been due to infighting among jihadist groups initially dedicated only to fighting Assad. As Reuters notes, ISIL has been killing more al Qaeda fighters in Syria than Assad’s forces, even reclaiming Raqa this weekend from al Qaeda.
ISIL had initially been an allied offshoot of al Qaeda before being disowned for allegedly being too interested in consolidating power and possibly working with Assad against the interests of al Qaeda. That change in designation led the United States to alter its list of known terror organizations to reflect ISIL’s new status as a group functioning independent of al Qaeda. Al Qaeda’s official wing in Syria is the al Nusra front, which surrendered Raqa to ISIL this weekend.
Raqa is currently the only rebel-held city in Syria, according to the AFP. The media outlet also notes that ISIL is fighting to gain control of Deir al-Zor, an eastern province that would allow it to control territory reaching into Iraq.
In addition to imposing new laws and restricting al Qaeda’s access to the city, ISIL is believed to be holding about 1,000 hostages in Raqa, many responsible for violating the moral rules ISIL wishes to impose. ISIL has also been responsible for public executions under its pseudo-government in the region.
Earlier Wednesday, President Obama met with Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba to discuss the ongoing civil war and ways in which rebels not allied with ISIL or al Qaeda, or other independent jihadist groups, can continue the fight against Assad.