Sulaymaniyah [variants: Sulamaniya, Sulaimaniya, Sulaimanieh, Sulaimania], a city in northern Iraq with approximately 500,000- 750,000 inhabitants, is the region's second-largest city. Many buildings have been destroyed by warfare, and some of the larger ones are occupied by refugees who live in squalor. Al-Sulaymaniyah is the capitol of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)-controlled Iraqi Kurdistan. Northern Iraq has been independent of Saddam (and guarded by U.S. and British patrols) since the Kurdish uprising that followed the Gulf war in 1991. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) administers Sulaymaniyah, and its rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), controls Irbil and Dohuk,
In late August 1996, backed by Iraq, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) launched an offensive in northern Iraq that led to the takeover of the regional capital of Irbil and placed most of the region under Massoud Barzani's control.
On 08 September 1996 Saddam Hussein offered a blanket amnesty for all Iraqi Kurds involved in factional fighting in northern Iraq. The previous day the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), allied with Saddam Hussein, had seized the city of Sulaymaniyah, the last stronghold of the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Many Kurds fled after the KDP rolled into Sulaymaniyah, some of them heading for Iran. As many as 5,000 Iraqi Kurds entered Iran, a far smaller number than the 300,000 people United Nations officials estimated fled Sulaymaniyah for the rugged hills of the border.
On 12 October 1996 Kurdish rebels recaptured a northern Iraqi city seized the previous month by a rival faction backed by Saddam Hussein. Sulaymaniyah, was under the control of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) forces following a citizens' revolt that ousted Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) troops. Thereafter, Sulaymaniyah remained under the control of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
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