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Umm Qasr

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Cranes at Umm Qasr await cargo.
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Cranes at Umm Qasr await cargo.

Umm Qasr (أم قصر), also known as Khawr Umm Qasr, is a port city in Iraq, on the western side of the al-Faw peninsula on the shores of the Shatt al-Arab (Arvand) waterway which leads to the Persian Gulf. It is separated from the border of Kuwait by a small inlet; prior to the Persian Gulf War traffic between Kuwait and Iraq flowed over a bridge there.

Umm Qasr was long a small fishing town of no great importance until a naval base was established here after the Iraqi Revolution of 1958. Modern port facilities were built here.

During the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) its importance increased as fighting restricted access to other ports further east. Iraq's lone deep-water port was threatened after the successful Iranian invasion and occuption of the al-Faw peninsula in 1986. However, Umm Qasr never fell during the Iran-Iraq War.

After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, during which the port was bombed, control of the inlet leading to Umm Qasr was transferred to Kuwait, and a large trench and sand berm was constructed along the border of the two nations. Meanwhile much commerce was shifted to Umm Qasr away from Basra by deliberate Iraqi government policy to punish Basra for its role in the rebellions against the rule of Saddam Hussain.

The city of Umm Qasr was the site of one of the first major military operations in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, on March 29, 2003. The assault on the city was spearheaded by British Royal Marines and Polish GROM, but Iraqi forces put up unexpectedly strong resistance, requiring several days' fighting before it was cleared of defenders. After the port was de-mined and reopened, it played an important role in the shipment of humanitarian supplies to Iraqi civilians.

During a House of Commons debate in late March 2003, British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon somewhat unwisely compared Umm Qasr to the southern English city of Southampton. The analogy was met with scepticism among the troops on the ground. A British soldier was widely quoted in media reports as retorting, "There's no beer, no prostitutes and people are shooting at us. It's more like Portsmouth."

See also

External link

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