The majority of the population of Nasiriyah are Shia Muslims. The city museum has a large collection of Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian, and Abbasid artifacts.
The city was founded in the 19th century by Sheikh Nasir Sadun. During World War I the British conquered the city, formerly controlled by the Ottoman Empire, in July of 1915. Some 500 British soldiers were killed in the battle for Nasiriyah, and perhaps as many Turks.
The Shia population of Nasiriyah took part in the revolt against the rule of Saddam Hussain following the Gulf War in 1991. The revolt was violently subdued by the Iraqi military.
In March 2003 Nasiriyah was a battle ground in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Phillip Mitchell of the International Institute for Strategic Studies described Nasiriyah's strategic importance to The Guardian: "Nasiriyah is a major administrative headquarters and is also [Iraqi General] Majid's military district headquarters. It is a major strategic crossing point of the Euphrates. For all those reasons Nasiriyah will be well defended, which will slow the Mech [invasion] down for a while." \n