|Mesopotamia, the ancient name for the region now known as Iraq, was the birthplace of one of the oldest civilizations known to mankind. The Sumerians arose some 3000 years before Christ and from their city-states, the empire of Babylonia developed. Babylon fell to the Assyrians in 1350 B.C., and then to the Persians under Cyrus and Darius. persian rule would define the area for the next millennium. Islam began expanding in the 600s A.D. and quickly absorbed the Persian-ruled areas. The Caliphate was moved to Baghdad in 762. After the Mongols attacked Baghdad in 1258, the region declined such that it was easy pickings for the Ottomans in 1534 and thus Iraq remained for nearly 400 years. In 1915, the British occupied Iraq and after World War I, Britain continued to govern under the provisions of a League of Nations mandate. Under British supervision, a Hashemite monarchy was established in 1921. The kingdom became independent in 1932 but continued its close relationship with Britain, one predicated on the oil and defense interests of the British. But the British were not universally loved in Iraq as evidenced by the coups that were repelled with the ehlp of British troops. After a 1941 attempt wherein Italy and Germany were approached for aid, Britain took no chances. It sent troops to secure the throne and then ensure that Iraq declare war on the Axis in 1943. Post-war, Iraq joined the Arab League and took part in the war fought in 1948 to prevent Israel from being established. When the conflict ended, nearly the entire Jewish population of Iraq left for Israel. The monarchy was deposed in 1958 by a left-wing coup. The new regime turned against the West, nationalized oil and other industries, and broke up large landholdings. The radical Socialist Ba'ath party came to power in 1968. Soviet advisors and armaments followed in 1972, preparing Iraq to participate in the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel (Iraq sent troops to the Syrian front-lines). In 1975, Iraq took on the Kurds who were defeated by at great cost. In 1979, Gen. Saddam Hussein took over the government and a year later, war broke out between Iran and Iraq. It would continue, with little accomplished except the killing of hundreds of thousands and massive destruction on both sides. In 1981, Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor that was apparently engaged in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Iraq and Iran agreed to a ceasefire in 1988. The international community criticized Iraq's continued repression and arms acquisitions, particularly when Iraqis were seized trying to smuggle nuclear weapon components from the UK and the US. In 1990, Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait, setting the stage for the Gulf War five months later. Though Saddam Hussein was defeated, he was left in control of the country, which has spent the years since the Gult War ended, trying to stymie United Nations arms inspectors and dealing with the results of UN-sponsored sanctions. Throught the 90's the United States and other NATO nations partoled an non fly zones over northern and Southern Iraq. A U.S.-led coalition removed the Ba'ath regime in March and April 2003.