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Britain's First Invasion of Iraq

Britain's First Invasion of Iraq

by Anthony Bruce

Britain's first intervention in what is now Iraq occurred at the beginning of the First World War. At the outset, Britain's objectives were limited to protecting its oil supplies. They were soon extended to include the capture of Baghdad, capital of the Ottoman Empire's province of Mesopotamia, and the territory beyond.

As Ottoman Turkey entered the war in October 1914, an expeditionary force dispatched from British India advanced from its forward base at the mouth of the Shatt-al-Arab, Iraq's opening onto the Persian Gulf. The oil installations at Abadan were taken on November 7 th , 1914. The city of Basra, 20 miles inland on the Euphrates, was occupied on November 22 nd , after the defeat of more determined opposition.