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Al Basrah

center city iraq persian

Al Basrah, or Basra (pop. 616,700), second-largest city in Iraq and an important port, lying on the Shatt al Arab River approximately 55 mi (90 km) from the Persian Gulf. Arabs founded Al Basrah in A.D. 636, after which it became a trade center. Under Ottoman rule (1534–1918) the city declined in importance. From 1918 to 1932, the years Great Britain ruled Iraq, Al Basrah served as a military center. Located near major oil fields, it became a center for oil refining and export. Because it was the site of heavy fighting, the city's importance as a port decreased during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980–88.

See also: Persian Gulf War.

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