Syrian Rebels Attack Area Around Key Shi’ite Shrine

Clashes Drawing Iraqi Shi'ite Militias Deeper Into War

Fighting continued around the area due south of Damascus today, with rebel factions attacking the area around the Saida Zainab Shrine, one of the most important shrines to Shi’ites.

The shrine contains the grave of a granddaughter of Muhammad, and before the outbreak of the civil war was an enormous tourist attraction, with large numbers of pilgrims visiting annually.

The shrine’s importance to Shi’ites has led large numbers of fighters from Shi’ite militias abroad, particularly Iraqis. Iraqi Shi’ite fighters were involved in the clashes yesterday in the area as well.

Attacking the area seems extremely dangerous for the Sunni-dominated rebels, and risks exacerbating an already growing sectarian nature to the civil war. While this may help them with recruitment, it also risks dragging those Shi’ite militias more directly into the war.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.