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Introduction

Kurdistan (/ˌkɜːrdɪˈstæn, ˈstɑːn/; Kurdish: کوردستان[ˌkʊɾdɯˈstɑːn] (About this sound listen); lit. "homeland of the Kurds") or Greater Kurdistan is a roughly defined geo-cultural historical region wherein the Kurdish people form a prominent majority population and Kurdish culture, languages and national identity have historically been based. Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges. The territory corresponds to Kurdish irredentist claims.

Contemporary use of the term refers to the following areas: southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan). Some Kurdish nationalist organizations seek to create an independent nation state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others campaign for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries.

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The Citadel of Erbil
Erbil, known as Hewlêr, is the largest city and capital of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. It is located 88 kilometres (55 miles) east of Mosul and has a permanent population of approximately 1.5 million as of 2013.

Urban life at Erbil (Hewlêr) can be dated back to at least 6000 BC, and it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. At the heart of the city is the ancient Citadel of Arbil. In the early part of the 3rd millennium BC, the Hurrians from Asia Minor were the first to establish Urbilum and expand their rule to parts of northern Mesopotamia. The city became an integral part of Assyria from the 25th century BC to the 7th century BC, but after it lost its independence at the end of the 7th century BC, both Assyria and the city of Erbil were under the rule of many regional powers in turn, including the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians and Greeks. Following the Arab Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia, the Arabs dissolved Assyria (then known as Assuristan/Athura) as a geo-political entity in the mid-7th century AD, and during medieval times the city came to be ruled by the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks.

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Barzani in the 1930s
Mustafa Barzani (March 14, 1903 – March 1, 1979) also known as Mullah Mustafa was a Kurdish nationalist leader, and the most prominent political figure in modern Kurdish politics. In 1946, he was chosen as the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to lead the Kurdish revolution against Iraqi regimes. Barzani was the primary political and military leader of the Kurdish revolution until his death in March 1979. He led campaigns of armed struggle against both the Iraqi and Iranian governments.

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