, 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.
(born 4 April 1948), also known as Abdo
(short for Abdullah and "uncle" in Kurdish), is one of the founding members of the militant organization the Kurdistan Workers' Party
(PKK) in 1978 in Turkey, which is listed as a terrorist organization
internationally by some states and organizations, including NATO
, the United States and the European Union
Öcalan was arrested in 1999 by the CIA and Turkish security forces in Nairobi and taken to Turkey, where he was sentenced to death under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code, which concerns the formation of armed gangs. The sentence was commuted to aggravated life imprisonment when Turkey abolished the death penalty in support of its bid to be admitted to membership in the European Union. From 1999 until 2009, he was the sole prisoner on the İmralı island, in the Sea of Marmara. Öcalan has acknowledged the violent nature of the PKK, but says that the period of armed warfare was defunct and a political solution to the Kurdish question should be developed.