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For the town in Armenia, see Kut, Armenia.

Al-Kūt (Arabic: الكوت‎; BGN: Al Kūt; also spelled Kut-Al-Imara or Kut El Amara) is a city in eastern Iraq, on the left bank of the Tigris River, about 100 miles south east of Baghdad. As of 2003 the estimated population is about 374,000 people.[1] It is the capital of the province long known as Al Kut, but since the 1960s renamed Wasit.

The old town of Kut is within a sharp "U" bend of the river, almost making it an island but for a narrow connection to the shore. For centuries Kut was a regional center of the carpet trade. The area around Kut is a fertile cereal grain growing region. The Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility, looted following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is located near Kut.

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The siege of Kut

This sepoy POW shows the conditions of the garrison at Kut at the end of the siege

Al-Kut was the scene of fierce battle during World War I. The British Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, led by General Townshend, marched north from Basra in September 1915 in what became known as the Mesopotamian Campaign. They reached Al-kut on September 26, where after three days of fighting they drove the Ottoman forces from the town.

After a halt of nearly 9 months, Townshend then headed up river to Ctesiphon. Following a battle there, the British forces withdrew back to Kut. On December 7, 1915, the Turks, under their commander, the German Field Marshal Baron von der Goltz, arrived at Kut and began a siege. The British cavalry under Colonel Gerard Leachman succeeded in breaking out, but Townshend and the bulk of the force remained besieged. Many attempts were made to relieve Townshend's forces, but all were defeated. Some 23,000 British and Indian soldiers died in the attempts to retake Kut, probably the worst loss of life for the British away from the European theater. Near the end of the siege, T. E. Lawrence and Aubrey Herbert of British Intelligence unsuccessfully tried to bribe Khalil Pasha to allow the troops to escape.

Townshend, with some 8,000 surviving soldiers, finally surrendered Kut on April 29, 1916. The captured soldiers were divided, where the officers were sent to separate facilities, and many of the enlisted soldiers were impressed into hard labour until the surrender of the Ottoman Empire; more than half of them died. The British went back on the offensive in December 1916 with a larger and better-supplied force under General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude and reconquered Kut on February 23, 1917.

Forward Operating Base Delta (FOB Delta)

Forward Operating Base (FOB) Delta is an American military installation located on the right bank of the Tigris directly across from Kut. The FOB is centered on a former Iraqi Air Force base.

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References

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