The Yezidi shrine of Shaqsebat in Babire (Iraq) appears to have been destroyed, but it is difficult to tell from the evidence

It appears, from photographic evidence in the Êzîdî Press, that the Islamic State (1) has destroyed another regional pilgrimage site, the shrine of Shaqsebat in the five-village community of Babire in the region of Sheikhan [Sinjar (2)] [Sheikhan/Shaikhan (4)], north of Tel Kayf, near Mosul [in Ninawa Governorate].

I’d found the written reports, but not the photos (3). After JP @AgenerationXer asked me about other unevidenced reports, the Êzîdî Press @EzidiPress kindly shared paired photos. Sadly, they appear to correspond and show the demolition of the shrine [but I think that better evidence is needed for confirmation].

Pilgerstätte Shaqsebat vor und nach der Zerstörung (c) Êzidî Press, 20. August 2014

Pilgerstätte Shaqsebat vor und nach der Zerstörung
(c) Êzidî Press, 20. August 2014

Neither of the photos appears to have been published before the press report.


In the first photo, we can see a Yezidi shrine – the ribbed/ridged/fluted cone/spire is a distinctively Yezidi feature of shrine architecture. I think the property has a low, cream/yellow perimeter wall, with a tan/terracotta structure inside (followed by trees, then the shrine).

It might be a two-layered wall but, particularly considering the raised corners of the cream/yellow walling and the shadowed space to the left of the tan/terracotta walling (which would structurally resemble some covered spaces in the second photo), I think it is a low wall with a structure inside.

There appear to be two growths of trees; the left one of those trees appears to be growing at an angle (or falling), though there is a wire in view or another artefact in screen that may be misleading the eye as to the severity of the angle of the tree; and at least the right one (with a forked trunk or multitrunk) appears to be growing just behind the tan/terracotta structure.

There are pale, consistently low, flat-roofed buildings in the background, though the spire and one of the trees obscure half of the background, so not much can be assumed from what is or is not “revealed” in the second photo.

the shrine of Shaqsebat before destruction (c) Êzidî Press, 20. August 2014

Pilgerstätte Shaqsebat vor der Zerstörung [the shrine of Shaqsebat before destruction]
(c) Êzidî Press, 20. August 2014


The second photo has been taken from a very different angle (almost from the opposite direction), from far further away, which automatically makes everything much more difficult. The long stretch of lighter, low perimeter walling, and the set of covered spaces with darker walling (which cannot be seen in the first photo but which structurally resemble the tan/terracotta structure that can be seen), appears to correspond with the first photo. Likewise, the telegraph poles that are visible in the second photo are not visible in the first.

The trees’ masses overlap, which makes it difficult to pick out distinguishing features. The trunk on the right (which, due to the change in angle, would correspond to the left in the first photo) does not appear to be at a similar angle to the leaning/collapsing tree on the far left of the first photo. I assume that one has fallen down, or been cut down, or been blown down. It could correspond to the left growth of the forked trunk/multitrunk.

Similarly, the outline of the left side of the left tree in the second photo could correspond to the outline of the right side of the right tree in the first (as the angle of the second is not a precise reversal of the first). There seems to be something – reflecting, shining? – bright yellow amongst the trees.

The land itself appears yellower in the first photo, ruddier in the second, but that apparent difference could easily be a product of light conditions, so I don’t think it can be used as evidence.

the shrine of Shaqsebat after destruction (c) Êzidî Press, 20. August 2014

Von IS-Terroristen zerstörte Pilgerstätte Shaqsebat [The shrine of Shaqsebat destroyed by IS]
(c) Êzidî Press, 20. August 2014

First thoughts

Although the evidence is not very clear, the shrine of Shaqsebat does appear to have been destroyed.


1: The Islamic State has also been 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).

2: Journalist Judit Neurink @JuditNeurink has been to Sheikhan and confirmed that it ‘is outside IS territory’.

3: The Êzîdî Press reported it in German with photos on the 20th, in English without photos on the 21st and in English with photos on the 23rd.

4: Simone Muehl has kindly informed me that there is an area north of Tel Kayif and east of Mosul that is also called Shaikhan.

2 Comments to “The Yezidi shrine of Shaqsebat in Babire (Iraq) appears to have been destroyed, but it is difficult to tell from the evidence”

  1. This is not in the Sinjar (Shingal) region.


    • I was told that it was in Sheikhan. Then I was corrected that it was not in Sheikhan, but in Sinjar. Now it’s not in Sinjar, but… Where is it? (And is it in Islamic State territory?)


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