Mark @markito0171, who reported the destruction of the Tomb of Jonah/Mosque of Yunus correctly, provided perhaps the first English-language report: ‘#Iraq’i TV: #IslamicState blow up “Sayeda Zeinab shrine” in #Sinjar west of #Mosul.’ But no more reliable information, only definitely fake evidence, has emerged since then. [
Immediate update: the site has been destroyed. Following update (13th August 2014): alleged TV footage does not show the Shrine of Sayeda Zeinab; there is still no evidence that the shrine has been destroyed.]
Reports without evidence
A “security source” told the utterly unreliable Iraqi News: ‘The ISIL terrorists detonated the holy shrines [sic] with the Improvised Explosive Devices.’ (The plural shrines may be due to reports that the Shrine of Yezidi Sheikh Sharfaddin has been destroyed.) Similarly, a “source” told (Faili Kurdish) Shafaq News: ‘Elements of ISIS blew up Sayeda Zeinab shrine.’
The quite reliable (Kurdish) Rudaw (@RudawEnglish) has reported it: ‘ISIS militants destroy “Sayeda Zeinab shrine” in #Sinjar west of #Mosul’ – but Rudaw, which has published other photos from Sinjar, including Yezidis’ families’ flight into the mountains of Sinjar to evade Islamic State rule, has not published any photos of the ruins of the shrine-mosque. Shia News (@snpak110) reported later, but provided no more information.
(Up to 200,000 [certainly, many thousands of] people have fled the city, including thousands who had already been displaced from other Caliphate-controlled territory. [Update (4th August 2014): according to , Issa clan chief Khalaf Elias, 50 Yezidi families, 2,000 internally displaced persons, were promised by the Islamic State that they could safely return to Wardi, then disappeared. The Islamic State is a genocidal threat to non-conformists.])
Definitely fake evidence
When I got back online, I was first shown a tweet from Hamo (@KekHamo), which showed photos before and during destruction. Hamo believed that the shrine had been destroyed, because it had been reported by Rudaw; and András J. Riedlmayer found another photo that corroborated the before image (searches for which can be confused by photos of the tomb-mosque of Sayeda Zeinab outside Damascus in Syria); but I immediately recognised the image of the moment of destruction.
Before Hamo, AyaIShbn @AyaIShbn had shared the photos: ‘ISIS terrorists blew up the shrine of Sayeda Zeinab in #Shingal west of #Mosul, a security source in Nineveh province said. #Iraq #NO2ISIS.’ (AyIShbn got her “corroborating” images, through Salih @SpringRebel, from Mustafa Aliraqi @Iraqism.) The source of the image is not clear, but the subject is: the image is a still from around fifteen seconds into one of the videos of the destruction of the Tomb of Jonah/Mosque of Yunus. Obviously, the producer of the image must have found that video, frozen it, captured the still and repurposed it, so it is deliberately fake evidence, and there is not yet any evidence of the destruction of the Shrine-Mosque of Sayeda Zeinab.
Confirmed evidence of site destruction [update (4th August 2014)]
A scholar of Yezidism and fundamentalism, Matthew Barber, has detailed the humanitarian crisis and existential threat to the Yezidi community. In his piece, he presented before and after images of the destruction: the [Shia] Shrine-Mosque of Sayeda Zeinab has been destroyed.
The threat of ethnic-religious cleansing of the Yezidi community
The shrine-mosque is in the majority (Kurdish) Yezidi city of Sinjar. Since the Islamic State judges Yezidis’ reconciliation of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam and other faiths to be shirk (polytheism), those mushrikiin (polytheist) communities are exceptionally endangered. Since they are exceptionally endangered, facts are more important than ever. This site’s destruction could signal the launch of another campaign of ethnic-religious cleansing.
It’s also notable that, up to now, the Islamic State has destroyed sites once it has control of an area. In other words, the destruction of sites has not been an overriding aim. After all, the Caliphate could have fired rockets at sites during its battles for control; or, as these reports suggest, it could have used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at short notice rather than expertly-planted dynamite and stage-managed public relations.
As far as I can remember, this appears consistent enough that it enables insights into the Islamic State’s perception of its own situation. If it begins to destroy sites hurriedly with IEDs, that suggests that it is no longer confident of its position or its prospects. And since the destruction of these sites distracts from the military campaign and provokes armed resistance to it, the ethnic/religious cleansing may be an attempt to raise funds from extremist sponsors.
[Update (4th August 2014): the destruction appears as controlled and complete as every other so far; the ruins do not look like they have been struck by IEDs.]
The Islamic State is also known as the Caliphate, Da’ash, Da’esh, Da’ish, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Sayeda Zeinab is also written Sayeda Zainab, Sayyda Zainab, Sayyda Zaynab, Sayyeda Zainab, Sayyida Zainab, Sayyidah Zainab, Sittna Zainab… Sayyeda Zaynab bint Ali was one of the granddaughters of Muhammed, one of the daughters of Imam Ali (who became the forefather of Shia Islam).
Arabic-language Sinjar is Kurdish-language Şengal (Shengal) or Şhingal (Shingal) and Syriac-language Siggar.