IRAQ. Basra governorate. Near Umm Qasr. March 16, 2009. Detainees walk after prayer at Camp Bucca, a U.S. military detention centre. At its peak, the prison located 340 miles southeast of Baghdad held 26,000 detainees.

Camp Bucca has been described as playing an important role in shaping ISIS. The detention of large numbers of Jihadists and ex-Ba’athists during the Iraqi insurgency provided them with the opportunity to forge alliances and learn from each other, combining the ideological fervour of the former with the organisational skills of the latter. Former Camp Bucca detainees who went on to become leaders in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant include Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh; Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, al-Baghdadi’s deputy; Haji Bakr, who spearheaded ISIL’s expansion into Syria; Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, the military leader responsible for planning the seizure of Mosul; and Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, another senior military leader. Abu Mohammad al-Julani, who founded the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, was also a Camp Bucca detainee.

Photograph: Yuri Kozyrev/Noor

Get up brother, the war is over. They have taken your tank to the smelter but your rifle still lies on the mountain. At last, the sands have erased your courage and farmers now plant leaves where you fell. The trees you planted have died. The enemy have taken the mountain that you vowed you would never abandon. From the ice-covered summits, they’ve lowered your banner, which was raised until your downfall. They’ve plundered your uniform and your plunder. And no matter how dead you were, they kept riddling your corpse with bullets. Though the worms crawled out of your eyes - and your large heart - they still couldn’t believe that you were dead. You had been their worst nightmare. Get up my brother, the war is over (…) My mother is still in bed. I spoke with her of your height and your strong arms. How delighted she was when they couldn’t find any shoes that would fit you. She asked me how you were sleeping and I was filled with sorrow to tell her that you hadn’t slept for seven years. That a shell from an enormous gun shattered your ribs, and stripped you of your youth. So I let the sun set upon your name and dreams, put to rest the settled dust that you have become. Between your life, your death, there is a distance of six children.
Cities of Mesopotamia

Baghdad (بغداد‎) - Iraq

Al-Raqqah (الرقة) - Syria

Basra (البصرة‎) - Iraq

Deir ez-Zor (دير الزور) - Syria

Fallujah (الفلوجة‎) - Iraq

Hesice ( Hesîçe‎  ܚܣܟܗ) - Kurdistan/Assyria

Karbala (كربلاء‎) - Iraq

Mardin (Mêrdîn ܡܶܪܕܺܝܢ‎) Kurdistan/Assyria

Mosul (الموصل‎) - Iraq

Najaf (النجف‎) - Iraq

Qamislo (Qamişlo‎ ܩܡܫܠܐ) - Kurdistan/Assyria

Ramadi (الرمادي‎) - Iraq

Tikrit (تكريت‎) - Iraq
Iraq opens new antiquities museum in Basra
Iraq opened a new antiquities museum in the southern city of Basra on Tuesday with pottery, coins and other artifacts dating back more than 2,000 years.

A small new museum has opened in southern Iraq!  It only consists of one hall right now due to economic issues but it hosts artifacts that go all the way back to the Sumerians, Assyrians, and Babylonians.  The museum is in the hall of one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces and the curators did this to replace the themes of dictatorship and tyranny with civilization and humanity.


IRAQ. Basra governorate. January 16, 1987. Iranian soldiers wear gas masks near a canal in the Shalamcheh area, southeast of Basra, during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was accused of using mustard gas and the nerve agent taubun in his country’s war with neighbouring Iran as well as his 1987-88 crackdown on Iraq’s Kurdish minority.

Photograph: AP