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965 Battle of Tarsus ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: The Byzantines captured the city and started an invasion into Syria 16 August 965
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Arabs (Hamdanids)
Later Byzantine-Muslim Wars
Battle Type:
City Capture
The Battlefield Tarsus Location:
Tarsus in Mersin province in southern Asia Minor
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:   Nikephoros II Phocas) The Enemies
Commander: Emperor Nikephoros Phocas Unknown
Forces: 40,000 Unknown
Background story: In the spring of 964, as emperor, Nikephoros Phocas started a huge campaign aiming at a final blow against Arabs who continued to devastate the Christian cities of Cilicia and Cappadocia. The departure of the emperor from Constantinople leading his 40,000-strong army, was celebrated as the beginning of a "Holy War". Along the march, more and more fighters joined.
The Battle:
Byzantine warriors
In July 964, the Greek army passed through the famous Ciliceae Pylae (Cilician Gates), taking by storm more than 20 fortresses and, among others, the city of Adana.
Phocas then marched east to besiege the key fortress of Tarsus in Cilicia, held for Sayf ad-Dawlah, Emir of Aleppo.
The city was the birthplace of Saint Paul and had become a base of operations for the regular summer raids into Byzantine lands through the Cilician Gates when the mountain snows had melted and passage was possible. Phocas captured Tarsus as the Muslim residents abandoned the defense and fled into Syria, where Nikephoros soon captured Antioch and Aleppo.
Aftermath: After Tarsus, Phocas invaded Syria. Tarsus remained Byzantine and Christian for nearly a century.