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The territory of modern Iraq is roughly equivalent to that of ancient Mesopotamia, which fostered a succession of early civilizations. The history of Mesopotamia began with the civilization of the Sumerians around 5000 BC in the southern region of Iraq. In 2371 BC, King Sargon Of Akkad asserted control of the region and established the first Assyrian dynasty. The Assyrians ruled the region and expanded its territories to include modern Turkey, Iran, Syria and Israel. The Assyrian empire reigned until the fall of its capital Nineveh (modern day Mosul) in 612 BC.

Mosul Presidential Site

This site, built over 2.2 square kilometers and completed in 1994, contains Saddam Hussein's northernmost presidential site and includes several palaces and VIP residences, three lakes, and man-made waterfalls.

The special group of UN Special Commission for Iraq (UNSOM) weapons inspectors, diplomats and representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) completed its initial inspections of Iraqi presidential sites on 02 April 1998. It took eight days to complete the so-called baseline inspections of the presidential sites. Access to these sites, which Iraq had declared off limits to the United Nations, was granted only after Secretary General Kofi Annan signed an agreement with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during his visit to Baghdad last month which allows UN weapons experts, accompanied by a special group of "diplomatic observers," to inspect the compounds. Unfettered access to these and other sites is one of the conditions that must be met to complete the weapons inspections and ultimately lift UN sanctions.

All eight "presidential sites" visited appeared to be well defined by high walls or fences. They all had a rather similar landscape pattern: main guesthouses, with an integrated system of ancillary buildings and villas for accompanying dignitaries. Often an artificial lake with small artificial decorative islands located in a way to give access to the lake from each guesthouse. The mission was not intended to be a search for prohibited material and none was found. In fact, there was very little equipment, documentation or other material in the sites at all. It was clearly apparent that all sites had undergone extensive evacuation. In all the sites outside of Baghdad, for example, there were no documents and no computers. The buildings were largely empty. A key accomplishment of the mission was to plot more precisely the boundaries of the presidential sites.

After staying the night of 28 March 1998 in a hotel in Mosul, the Special Group visited the Mosul Presidential Site on 29 March 1998. This visit was conducted in rainy weather, which hampered the arrangements. The weather conditions resulted in poor aerial imagery and the Iraqi authorities agreed to a subsequent flight of an UNSCOM helicopter over the site on Friday, 3 April 1998 with a senior diplomat on board. A request by UNSCOM to meet the site manager could not be met on the day in question. A subsequent visit on 31 March 1998 was arranged so that competent officials were able to discuss the layout of the site with UNSCOM experts. No other significant problems were encountered during the visit.

Sources and Resources

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