A street in Rutbah, 2004
Ar Rutbah (Arabic: الرطبة, also known as Rutba, Rutbah, or Ar Rutba) is an Iraqi town in western Al Anbar province. The population is approximately 55,000. It occupies a strategic location on the Amman-Baghdad road, and the Mosul–Haifa oil pipeline. Considered a "wet spot", it receives 114.3 mm (4.5 inches) of rain annually, and is located on a high plateau.
During the British administration, Rutbah Wells, as it was then known, was a stopover for Imperial Airways on flights from Britain to India and the Gulf Region. Aircraft were routed Cairo - Gaza - Rutbah Wells - Bagdhad. It was also a water stop on the overland drive from Baghdad to Damascus; travelers who stopped lodged in a fort. 16 kilometers south of Rutbah (Rutbah Wells, in 1934), the famous aircraft "Uiver" ["Stork"], a winner of the MacRobertson Air Race, a DC-2 type from the KLM, (now known as Air France-KLM), crashed there on its first flight after the MacRobertson Air Race in December 1934, on its way to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). There were seven people dead, including Dominique Willem Berretty, a Dutch media magnate.
Persian Gulf War
Due to Rutbah's strategic location, the town has played a role in later conflicts between the United States and Iraq. During the Persian Gulf War of 1991 it was reportedly a Scud launching location.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the base was occupied by the Army's 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment and was known as FOB Buzz. An Army Captain was charged and court-martialed for staging mock executions of Iraqi prisoners.
In 2004, Marines from Regimental Combat Team 7 relieved the Army soldiers and took control of the city, resolving to engage the populace more proactively. By July 2004, Camp Korean Village, a Marine logistical support base, was established nearby. The base served as a regional air field, convoy rest stop, shock trauma hospital and headquarters of the local Marine garrison. The base is named after the historical lineage of the Marine Corps 7th Marine Regiment who fought valiantly during the Korean war (As also did the 5th Marine Regiment). After the Marines relieved the Army in 2004, it was renamed Korean Village, or "KV" for short.
On January 26, 2005, a Marine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed outside of town, killing 30 Marines and one Navy corpsman. This was the single deadliest day for American forces in the Iraq conflict. The cause of the crash was a severe wind storm that had come upon them unexpectedly.
By March 2006, the city was being guarded by elements of the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (LAR) and an Iraqi rifle company from the 3d Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, Iraqi Army. U.S. and Iraqi forces had built a 7-foot (2.1 m)-high and 20-foot (6.1 m)-wide berm in order to restrict access into the city from all but 3 guarded vehicle checkpoints. This was done to restrict weapons and explosives smuggling into the city and force insurgent elements to hide weapons caches in the open desert, as well as reduce the number of roadside bombs inside the populated areas.
In July 2006, increased violence and lawlessness in Baghdad, forced the transfer of the 4-14 Cavalry Squadron, U.S. Army, from the cities of Rawah and Anah in the northern Anbar province to Baghdad in order to augment security there. The gap in forces was replaced, initially, with personnel and resources from 3rd LAR in Rutbah.
In early 2007, the Rutbah government progressed in the transition to providing its own security. The town's efforts included recruiting approximately 200 men to send to an Iraqi Police training academy to increase counterinsurgency practices.
In March 2009 the Marines transferred control of Camp Korean Village over to, C CO. 2-142 Infantry 56th IBCT 36th Infantry Division which is a Texas Army National Guard unit. Control was then turned over to C-CO. 186th INF Oregon Army national Guard. The Camp was handed over to the Iraqi Army on May 1, 2010.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIL (also known as ISIS) took control of several Anbar province towns in 2014 and in June 2014 a member of the local council told the New York Times that "around fifty vehicles full of militants and weapons came from Houran valley and after sporadic clashes with police they took control over the central town. Then they left a group of them to secure the town and then headed toward the border." On 24 June a Syrian air-force raid on Rutba, to assist the Iraqi army during the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive, killed at least 50 people (mostly civilians).
Rutba is 70 miles (110 km) from both the Iraq-Jordan border and the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ar Rutbah.|
- Iraq Image - Ar Rutba Satellite Observation
- Aerial Photo of Ar Rutba from GlobalSecurity.org
- Town Information from GlobalSecurity.org