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Khabur River

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Arabic: نهر الخابور, Aramaic:ܚܒܘܪ, Kurdish: Çemê Xabûr, Turkish: Habur Nehri, Habor, Chaboras, Chebar
Khabur south of Al-Hasakah
Countries Flag of Syria.svg Syria, Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey
City Ra's al-'Ayn, Al-Hasakah, Busayrah
Source Ras al-'Ayn
 - elevation 350 m (1,148 ft)
Mouth Euphrates
 - coordinates 35°8′33″N 40°25′51″E / 35.1425°N 40.43083°E / 35.1425; 40.43083
Length 486 km (302 mi)
Basin 37,081 km2 (14,317 sq mi)
 - average Template:Unit discharge
 - max Template:Unit discharge
 - min Template:Unit discharge

The Khabur River is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, 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 Busayrah.


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.


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


In Sumerian mythology, the Habur is equivalent to the River Styx in Greek myth. Important ancient sites such as Tell Halaf, Tell Brak, Tell Leilan (ancient Shekhna) and Urkesh, 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 Jordan. A portion of these captives were deported to the banks of the Chebar. The Book of Kings further relates how Israelite captives from Samaria were then settled near Gozan (Tell Halaf) 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 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 Nippur 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.[3]

Modern Khabur River Valley

The Khabur River Project, begun in the 1960s, involved the construction of a series of dams and canals. Three dams have been constructed in the Khabur Basin as part of a large irrigation scheme that also includes the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates. Two dams, Hasakah West and Hasakah East, have been constructed on tributaries to the Khabur between Ra's al-'Ayn and Al-Hasakah. The capacity of the reservoir of Hasakah West is 0.09 km3; that of Hasakah East is 0.2 km3. A third dam, Hassakeh South, was constructed on the Khabur 25 km south of Al-Hassakeh. The reservoir of this dam has a capacity of 0.7 km3.[4] 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.


  1. Hole F, Zaitchik, BF (2007). "Policies, plans, practice, and prospects: irrigation in northeastern Syria". Land Degradation & Development 18 (2): 133-152. doi:10.1002/ldr.772. 
  2. Burdon, DJ, Safadi, C (1963). "Ras-el-Ain: the great karstic spring of Mesopotamia. An hydrogeological study". Journal of Hydrology 1: 58-95. doi:10.1016/0022-1694(63)90033-7. 
  3. Eichrodt, Walther (1970). OTL-Ezekiel (Old Testament Library). Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 52. ISBN 066422766X. 
  4. Mutin, Georges (2003). "Le Tigre et l'Euphrate de la discorde" (in French). VertigO 4 (3): 1-10. Retrieved 18 December 2009. 

External links

ar:خابور (نهر) arc:ܚܒܘܪ ca:Khabur cs:Chaburgl:Río Khabur ko:하부르 강ku:Xabûr (Firat)ja:ハブール川fi:Khabur sv:Khabur tg:Дарёи Ҳабур

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