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Fian Ayub looked like she'd stepped out of the pages of a glossy Western bridal magazine — save for the rubble strewn behind her.
The 22-year-old's white dress had rows of pearls across its sweetheart neckline and encircling the waist, where layers of tulle gathered to give a ballgown finish. Her updo and make-up, too, were flawless — it wasn't easy pulling the look together in war-torn Kobani, Syria.
Posing for pictures on their wedding day, Ayub and her groom Radwan Bizar's big smiles gave no indication of the destruction and despair their city had suffered under ISIS. The bombed-out buildings were all that gave it away.
"No matter how beautiful the world cities and countries are, for me the country and city I was born and brought up in ... is the most beautiful place," Ayub explained of her decision to get married against such a stark backdrop. "Despite the devastation, destruction, war and terrorism … true happiness is only in your homeland."
She met Bizar — a 30-year-old journalist — when he came to do a story about the women's empowerment center where she worked in Kobani in September. Both had fled Kobani when ISIS seized control, waiting out the siege in Turkey before returning.
And on Oct. 23, just a month after meeting, they took their vows — surrounded by family, friends and colleagues. Photographers snapped wedding photos as the Bizar promenaded with his bride, who clutched the a perfect white bouquet.
"We always refused even to think about getting married in Turkey … To get married in your country is a sense of dignity and pride," according to Bizar.
He said their decision to hold the wedding in war-torn Kobani was intended to demonstrate their resolve against injustice and terrorism.
"We are the people who love life , who love to live despite all the destruction and devastation," Bizar told NBC News. "We're not afraid of terrorism and ISIS. We decided to get married here and we will stay here. We're not leaving."