The Ottoman forces at Ctesiphon were well entrenched and fortified, and the Tigris blocked by boat bridges and mined. As the west bank proved impassable, the British opened their attack on 22 November on the east bank, where layered defences were fronted by a dry moat the Ottomans flooded. Major-General Townshend replicated his tactics at Küt with a dawn offensive and an attempted outflanking manoeuvre, however the infantry was left exposed when the Ottomans negated protective fire from the British gunboats with a sustained artillery barrage, and the attacks were repulsed. On 23 November, a second British attack was also repelled, upon which the Ottoman forces counterattacked, almost breaking through. The following day, both having incurred very heavy losses, withdrawals were ordered by both sides. However, the Ottoman commander, upon learning the British were also retreating, ordered his troops to wheel round and pursue them.
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