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635-636 Battle of Emessa ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: The Arabs captured the Byzantine city of Emessa in Syria Dec 635–Mar 636
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Arab Conquest of Syria
Battle Type:
City Capture
The Battlefield Emessa Location:
Modern Homs in western Syria, close to Lebanon
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Heraclius) The Enemies
Commander: Harbees Khalid ibn al-Walid, Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah
Forces: 8,000 15,000
Losses: 4,000 235
Background story: After a decisive victory at the Battle of Ajnadayn, the Muslims conquered Damascus after a long siege, in September 634.
Abu Ubaidah decided to take Emessa first, and thus clear his rear flank from the enemy before undertaking more serious operations in northern Syria.
The Battle:
The Muslim army marched to Emessa with Khalid ibn Walid's mobile guard in the lead. On arrival at the city, a short battle was fought with the Byzantine garrison of Emessa. The Muslims forced the Byzantines to withdraw into the fort and close the gates.
Emessa was a fortified circular-shaped city with a diameter of less than a mile, and it was surrounded by a moat. The Muslims camped outside the city walls and stayed there during the winter. Towards the end of the winter, Khalid made a fake withdrawal of his army from Emessa giving the Byzantines the impression that he was raising the siege. Harbees, the city’s governor, immediately led 5,000 Byzantine warriors out of the fort to chase the Muslims. He caught up with them a few miles from Emessa but the Arabs turned on them and his force was soon encircled and annihilated. After this, the locals offered to surrender on terms and Abu Ubaidah accepted the offer. The inhabitants paid the Jizya at the rate of one dinar per man. Peace returned to Emessa but it was not a Roman city anymore.
Noteworthy: At some point Khalid commented that "These Romans were the bravest I had ever met."
Aftermath: Soon after the surrender of Emesa, the Muslims set out once again for the north, intending to take the whole of Northern Syria. They stopped when they found out about the concentration of a large Byzantine army at Antioch.