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The Khabur River is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrianmarker territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Aynmarker are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakahmarker, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area. From north to south, annual rainfall in the Khabur basin decreases from over 400 mm to less than 200 mm, making the river a vital water source for agriculture throughout history. The Khabur joins the Euphrates near the town of Busayrahmarker.

Geography

The course of the Khabur can be divided in two distinct zones: the Upper Khabur area or Khabur Triangle north of Al-Hasakah, and the Middle and Lower Khabur between Al-Hasakah and Busayrah.

Tributaries

The tributaries to the Khabur are listed from east to west. Most of these wadis only carry water for part of the year.
  • Wadi Radd
  • Wadi Khnezir
  • Wadi Jarrah
  • Wadi Jaghjagh
  • Wadi Khanzir
  • Wadi Avedji


History

In Sumerian mythology, the Habur is equivalent to the River Styx in Greek myth. Important ancient sites such as Tell Halafmarker, Tell Brakmarker, Tell Leilanmarker (ancient Shekhna) and Urkeshmarker, have been excavated in the Khabur river basin. It has given its name to a distinctive painted ware found in northern Mesopotamia and Syria in the early 2nd millennium BCE, called Khabur ware. The region of the Khabur River is also associated with the rise of the kingdom of the Mitanni that flourished c.1500-1300 BC. In classical times the river was known as Chaboras.

Biblical Chebar

The Books of Kings and The First Book of Chronicles in the Old Testament recount that Tiglath-Pileser III who ruled 745–727 BC as King of Assyria, captured Israelites from east of the Jordanmarker. A portion of these captives were deported to the banks of the Chebar. The Book of Kings further relates how Israelite captives from Samariamarker were then settled near Gozan (Tell Halafmarker) on the Chebar river's banks by Shalmaneser V who reigned from 727 to 722 BC, as son and successor of Tiglath-Pileser III, (2 Kings 17:6, 18:11). After the Babylonians rose to dominance in the early 6th century, the Judaean priest and prophet Ezekiel proclaims to have been "by the river Chebar among the exiles...in the land of the Chaldeans", when "the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God" (Ezek.1:1,3).

Two cuneiform inscriptions excavated at Nippurmarker have however thrown doubt on the identification of this ancient River Chebar (or Kebar) with the present day Khabur River (Nahr el-Khabur). The latter's location in northern Mesopotamia is also believed to be irreconcilable with Ezekiel's residence in Chaldea. One of Babylonia's grand canals, Naru Kabari, is now favoured, which may be identified with modern Shatt en-Nil.

Modern Khabur River Valley

The Khabur River Project, begun in the 1960s, involved the construction of a series of dams and canals. The Khabur Valley, which now has about four million acres (16,000 km²) of farmland, is Syria's main wheat-cultivation area. The northeastern part is also the center for Syria's oil production.

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