A previously little known Ottoman-era victory found new life on Friday as Turkey officially observed its anniversary decades on. Kut al-Amara, fought in the eponymous Iraqi town between Ottoman troops and the British a century ago, was the last victory the Ottoman Empire secured before it collapsed after World War I.
The government, looking to restore the reputation of the Ottomans after decades of state policy to sever ties with country's pre-Republic past, has announced the victory would be commemorated again both in Turkey and Iraq where the battle took place.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was scheduled to attend an event to remember Kut al-Amara in Istanbul on Friday evening while the country's ambassador in Baghdad attended a remembrance event in Ottoman Turkish Martyrs cemetery in present-day Kut. In Istanbul, a commemoration ceremony was held by the grave of Halil Pasha, the Ottoman commander who led the troops in the battle.
Across the country, state-sponsored and private events were held to mark the battle with historians relating its details, its aftermath and its impact on delaying the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
On Apr. 29, 1916, 13,000 British-Indian soldiers surrendered to the Ottoman army, which laid a six-month siege to their garrison in Kut. The British had dispatched reinforcements to save the besieged troops but three battles to stave off the Ottomans filed to lift the siege and resulted in 23,000 casualties while the Ottomans lost 10,000 men, according to historians.