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The Euphrates river seen from Al-Bukamal
The Euphrates river seen from Al-Bukamal
Al-Bukamal is located in Syria
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 34°27′13″N 40°56′12″E / 34.45361°N 40.93667°E / 34.45361; 40.93667Coordinates: 34°27′13″N 40°56′12″E / 34.45361°N 40.93667°E / 34.45361; 40.93667
Country  Syria
Governorate Deir ez-Zor
District Al-Bukamal
Occupation Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Elevation 175 m (574 ft)
Population (2008 est)
 • Total 66,589
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) +3 (UTC)

Al-Bukamal (Arabic: البوكمال‎) is a city in eastern Syria on the Euphrates River near the border with Iraq. The Euphrates divides Abu Kamal[clarification needed] into two areas: Shamiyya (belonging to the Levant) and Jazira (belonging to Mesopotamia) Al-Jazira, a plains region consisting of northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq, quite distinct from the Syrian Desert and lower-lying central Mesopotamia. Al-Bukamal is an economically prosperous farming region with cattle-breeding, cereals, and cotton crops. It is also home to the historical site Dura-Europos and the ancient kingdom of Mari.


During the Ottoman time, Al-Bukamal was called kışla, pronounced locally as "qashla", which is a Turkish word for "military barracks". This name "Qashla" is still used by some inhabitants of the area, especially by elderly villagers.[citation needed] The name "Al-Bukamal" (Arabic: البوكمال) means "the family of Kamal", Kamal being the tribe that lives there, whereas the name Abu Kamal means "the father of Kamal".


During Roman times Al-Bukamal was, as part of Mesopotamia, an important trading post between the Roman Empire and India. Conquered by Zenobia, it became part of the kingdom of Palmyra.

During the early Islamic Empire, the administration of Jazira was often shared with that of Armenia. At the time of Mu'awiyah (governor of Syria and the later founder of the Umayyad Caliphate), the administration of al-Jazira was included in the administration of Syria.

In the 17th century, Al-Bukamal was the seat of an Ottoman sanjak in the Eyalet of Ar Ruha, modern Sanliurfa. It was a kaza centre in Zor Mutasarrıflığı (District of Zor), which center was Deir ez-Zor before ending of Ottoman rule in 1918.[1]

France occupied Al-Bukamal together with Deir ez-Zor in 1921 and made it the seat of a large garrison. In 1946 it became part of independent Syria. The region's position at the border of Syria and Iraq, especially after the US invasion of Iraq, has made it an important commercial as well as political center.

On 27 October 2008, four US helicopters carried out a raid on the village of Sukkariyeh in Al-Bukamal. It was the first known raid inside Syria by the US. News reports indicate that at least seven people were killed, four of them children.[2][3][4] Al-Bukamal is located near to Al-Qa'im, a crossing point for the Iraqi insurgency and the location of Operation Steel Curtain in November, 2005. The Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem stated that "Killing civilians in international law means a terrorist aggression." [5] During the Syrian civil war the town was taken by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant[6]


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