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Sayeda Zeinab and Sayeda Ruqaya Shrines Closed in Damascus to Avoid Spreading Coronavirus

The Sayeda Zeinab shrine has been closed for renovations and sterilization, amid reports that Iranian fighters in the area have died from coronavirus writes Sowt al-Asima.
Sayeda Zeinab and Sayeda Ruqaya Shrines Closed in Damascus to Avoid Spreading Coronavirus

On Monday, the committee overseeing the Sayeda Zeinab shrine issued a decision to close the shrine to pilgrims until Apr. 2, 2020, to carry out necessary renovations and to sterilize the shrine.

Sowt al-Asima obtained a copy of the committee’s decision, which said that the decision to close the shrine came as a result of the health situations in neighboring countries and many countries across the world and, “in accordance with instructions and directions from the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Ministry of Health and the relevant bodies out of concern for the health of pilgrims and workers at the shrines in light of these conditions.”

The decision also applied to the Sayeda Ruqaya shrine in Old Damascus, following instructions from the Ministry of Religious Endowments, according to the loyalist Al-Watan newspaper, and applies for the same time period.

Sowt al-Asima’s sources in southern Damascus confirmed that the militias responsible for protecting the shrine and the Sayeda Zeinab area had taken broad-ranging preventative measures with the start of the coronavirus spreading between militia members due to their continuous mixing with fighters coming from Iran.

The sources said that instructions had been issued to the residents of these areas of the need to wear protective masks and gloves while walking in the streets and not crowding and assembling at all. Militia members in the whole area are carrying out the same instructions.

Sowt al-Asima on Mar. 11, 2020, quoted medical sources in the Sayeda Zeinab area as saying that the Iranian militias had imposed a security cordon in the area around the Imam Khomeini Hospital, one of the main hospitals responsible for treating militia fighters around Damascus.

The sources said that the hospital had been turned into a clinic for coronavirus patients who were members of Iranian militias, and that the hospital staff had refrained from receiving general medical patients and had referred them directly to hospitals in Damascus.

Revolutionary Guard General Farhad Debian was mourned by Iranian media on Mar. 6, 2020, having died after contracting coronavirus with two other companions days after returning from Iran, while Iranian media saw that he had been killed in the Sayeda Zeinab area without providing precise details of the incident.

The Syrian regime government on Mar. 14, 2020, announced a series of “preventative measures” to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, which included stopping school and universities courses as well as trials and court sessions, and suspending prayers and studies in the mosques—as well as reducing the number of workers in the public sector to about 40 percent. The regime previously suspended the entry of tourists coming from “infected” countries to Syria on Mar. 8, 2020.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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