Abu Kamal or Abukamal is a city in eastern
Syria in the Euphrates River near
the border with Iraq. It is part of Al-Jazira - the Arabic name
for the region of northeastern modern-day Syria and northwestern
modern-day Iraq. It is characterized as a plain, quite district
from the Syrian Desert and lower-lying central Mesopotamia. The
Euphrates divides Abu Kamal into two areas: Shamiyya (belongs to
the Levant) and Jazira (belongs to Mesopotamia). Abu Kamal is an
economically prosperous region and farming area 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, Abu Kamal was called qashla
which is a Turkish word for ‘military base’. Abu kamal , the name,
is a tribal name for the region. Abu Kamal means the father
of Kamal but, it means the family of Kamal – which is the tribe
that lives there.
During Roman times Abu Kamal 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
In the 17th century, Abu Kamal or Ebukemal was the seat of an
Ottoman sanjak in the vilayet of Ar Ruha, modern Sanliurfa.
France occupied Abu Kamal together with Dair Azzour (or
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 has
made it an important commercial as well as political center.