2016: A Picture and its Story
Souad Hamidi removes her Niqab after Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) took control of her village, on the outskirts of Manbij city, Aleppo province, Syria June 9, 2016. Rodi Said: 'When U.S.-backed forces seized Hamidi's village in northern Syria from Islamic State, the 19-year-old swiftly tore off the niqab she had been forced to wear since 2014 and smiled. "I felt liberated," Hamidi said after swapping her black face-covering veil for a red headscarf. "They made us wear it against our will so I removed it that way to spite them." I was heading to villages that had been retaken by SDF, and my arrival coincided with the arrival of Hamidi back to her home. Am Adasa had been under the militants' control since 2014, when Islamic State proclaimed its caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq. Under Islamic State, life was strictly regulated, Hamidi said, including dress codes. "They would punish people who did not follow their rules, sometimes forcing them to stay in dug-out graves for days," she said. "Since they (SDF) took control, we are living a new life." Sitting in her family home, Hamidi said she still fears Islamic State may return one day. "I want to erase Daesh from my memory," she said. "I hope every area controlled by Daesh is liberated, that people are free of them and can live like we do now. For me this picture expresses Hamidi's strength of personality, her reclaiming freedom from the blackness that was forced upon her. ItÕs the moment when one overcomes fear of religious persecution.' REUTERS/Rodi Said TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "2016 PIX" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.