Kufa is located on the west bank of the Eurphrates near the Shi'a shrine city of Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad. It is where Arab calligraphy was perfected into the splendid Kufic style.
The principal monuments in Kufa are the Great Mosque and the Dar al-Imara, or Governor's Palace. The Mosque was the first thing to be built in Kufa. The Muslims inhabited Kufa in the year 17 A.H., namely directly after the conquest of Iraq.
Ali, Prophet Muhamad's brother-in-law, was the fourth caliph and first imam. In 645 Ali, the founder of Shiism, transferred the seat of government from Medina in Hijaz to to Kufa, and it became the capital of the Caliphate. The entire Muslim world with the exception of Damascus looked towards Kufa for guidance. The assassination of Ali in the Great Mosque of the city in 645 by Ibn Muljam brought an end to the city's role as capital. The mosque today is an open-air half-square-mile, with a beautiful golden dome. It contains the tombs of the two saints Muslim ibn Aqeel and Hani ibn Arwa.
By the late 1990s Kufa had a population of 110,000, and was the power base of the al-Sadr family. Muhammad Sadeq al-Sadr, delivered political speeches before Friday prayers at the Kufa Mosque, demanding religious freedom and the release of Shiite prisoners. Ayatollah Sadeq al-Sadr, was killed in 1999, along with two of his sons.
In early April 2004 Muqtada al-Sadr holed up in the main mosque in Kufa. Hundreds of his militiamen took over Kufa, driving out Iraqi security forces as part of the uprising orchestrated by al-Sadr. During the standoff gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket propelled grenades routinely patrolled the rooftop of the Kufa Mosque. Hundreds of al-Sadr's militiamen controled Kufa, holding its police station and the main mosque. On 06 April 2004 Moqtada Sadr said he had ended his sit-in at the mosque in Kufa and had travelled to the holy city of Najaf "to prevent more bloodshed". But on 16 April 2004 al-Sadr told a sea of followers in the Kufa Mosque compound during Friday services "Every person has to take a stand, either with us or against us.. Neutrality doesn't exist between us and the Americans."
Radical Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr reached Kufa near the holy Iraqi city of Al-Najaf on 07 May 2004 to lead Friday prayers as usual, defying US troops massed nearby, who have vowed to arrest him. He traveled accompanied by some 500 followers and members of his militia, known as the Imam Al-Mahdi Army. US commanders have said they will avoid fighting near religious sites. The US military said some 40 fighters of al-Sadr's militia were killed in heavy fighting in Kufa the previous day.
Camp Andaluz / Spanish Camp
By early 2004 in Najaf, there were three bases, northern, central and southern. The Spanish base base in Najaf also included troops from El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Honduras. The base south of Kufa is 15 kms north of Najaf, Iraq,
By late April 2004 elements of the 1st Armored Division were operating in the Multinational Division Central-South area of operations. Those forces were moved in early April 2004 in response to some of the operations around al Kut and in the vicinity of Najaf; they were forces that formerly were in Baghdad. The 1st Cavalry Division had assumed responsibility for Baghdad, so the 1st Armored Division is the major subordinate unit that's operating in that area.
They replaced the Spanish troops and moved into the Spanish base that's outside of town, rather than the Spanish base inside Najaf. They were generally in the area right between the town of Najaf and Kufa, in the outer suburbs of that area. This is outside of both the Medina area of Najaf, the holy portion of Najaf, as well as Najaf proper.
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