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Attack on shrine of Sayyidah Zaynab causes damage and kills top administrator – Damascus, Syria

Updated 23 July 2013

On Friday 19 July 2013, several mortar shells were fired in the vicinity of the Shrine of Sayyidah Zaynab (as).  According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the top administrator of Hazrat Bibi Zainab’s shrine was killed during shelling at the Holy site. Others have been injured.  There has also been damage to the Mosque.

The shrine had already suffered damage in an attack by terrorists in June last year, and a car bomb exploded on the intersection that leads up to the mosque in September, 2008.

The mosque located in the city of Sayyidah Zaynab, is in the southern suburbs of Damascus, Syria. The shrine has become a center of Shia religious studies in Syria and a destination of mass pilgrimage by Shia Muslims from across the world.  The masjid adjoining the shrine can accommodate more than 1,300 and a further 150 in the attached courtyards.  Approximately 1 million people visit the shrine every year.

This recent attack highlights the clear Sectarian nature to the Civil War in Syria, a war that seemingly has no end in sight.   


The crisis in Syria
As the civil war in Syria continues to escalate, the latest figures provided by the UN on June 13, 2013 are horrific and mind-boggling.  The United Nations put out an estimate of 92,900–100,000 that had died in the war by the end of April 2013.  Although contested by the Syrian government, UNICEF has reported that over 500 children have been killed as of early February 2012. Another 400 children have been reportedly arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons. Additionally, over 600 detainees and political prisoners have died under torture. By late June 2013, the opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the number of children killed in the conflict had risen to 5,144, while at the same time 3,330 women were also killed. According to the UN, 6,561 children were killed.

The UN has also reported that the conflict in Syria has caused the world's worst refugee crisis for 20 years, with an average of 6,000 people fleeing every day in 2013.  UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres said refugee numbers had not risen "at such a frightening rate" since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. According to the UN, about 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 1.8 million have fled to other countries.

The World Federation of KSIMC joins various organisations across the world in strongly condemning this act and all other acts which target burial sites, shrines and areas of historic heritage. The Secretary General of The World Federation, Shan E Abbas Hassam stated: ‘It is with deep regret to have heard this news on Friday last week. It took almost a day to verify the information. The Civil War in Syria has had huge ramifications for the people of the country and has severely destabilised the region. The World Federation is working to help those affected. One such example is the work we are doing in Lebanon to help refugee affected. We must continue doing this, all the way through and remain firm on helping as many as we can.’

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