Battle of Maysalun

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Battle of Maysalun
General Henri Gouraud inspects his troops before the battle begins.
General Henri Gouraud inspects his troops before the battle begins.
date July 23, 1920
place Maysalun , Anti-Lebanon
output French victory
Parties to the conflict

Third French RepublicThird French Republic France

Flag of Kingdom of Syria (1920-03-08 to 1920-07-24) .svg Kingdom of Syria


Henri Gouraud

Yusuf al-'Azmah

Troop strength
10,000 - 12,000 soldiers supported with tanks and aircraft 3,000 men (with poor equipment)

42 dead
154 wounded

400 dead and wounded

The Battle of Maysalun, also known as the Battle of the Maysalun Pass, took place on July 24, 1920 between Syrian and French troops near the city of Maysalun, around twelve kilometers west of Damascus .


During the First World War drove Britain playing a double game. On the one hand, Great Britain announced to the Sherif of Mecca , Hussein ibn Ali , in the Hussein-McMahon correspondence, in the event of a successful uprising against Ottoman rule, the prospect of recognition of the independence of the areas inhabited by Arabs, which previously belonged to the Ottoman Empire . Hussein ibn Ali's son Faisal became the military leader of that Arab revolt . On the other hand, through the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement, which contradicts the Hussein-McMahon correspondence, France and Great Britain divided up the majority of those Arab regions.

Therefore, after the end of the war, at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 , Faisal did not get through with his claim to create independent Arab Emirates. In Damascus - under the impression of the British deception and the disappointment of the Paris Peace Conference - a Syrian National Congress (also called "Pan-Syrian Congress") was established on June 3, 1919.

In order to enforce France's interests, troops of the Armée du Levant landed in Beirut on November 18, 1919 . In January 1920 Faisal was forced to conclude an agreement with the commander of the French occupation forces, General Henri Gouraud , which effectively placed Syria under French control. This sparked outraged protests by the Syrian nationalists. Faisal had to abandon the promises he had made to General Gouraud. The Syrian National Congress proclaimed the Kingdom of Syria (which included Lebanon) on March 7, 1920 and proclaimed Faisal to be king. He was crowned on April 8th. The Supreme Council of the Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, Italy) declared the proclamation of the Kingdom of Syria null and void at the conference in Sanremo, which took place from April 19 to 26, 1920 , decided a different division of the defeated Ottoman Empire and spoke France the mandate for Syria and Lebanon .

On July 14th, General Gouraud issued an ultimatum to King Faisal to dissolve the Syrian army. Otherwise he will advance from Lebanon to Damascus. There were disputes in the Syrian cabinet over the acceptance or rejection of the ultimatum. The king ordered the French troops, armed with tanks and supported by bombers, not to resist, and the Syrian army to be disbanded.


War Minister Yusuf al-'Azmah defied the royal order and went with the remnants of unresolved troops and volunteers against the French, a total of around 3,000 men. The French army under the command of General Mariano Goybet was 10,000 to 12,000 men strong. It mainly consisted of Senegalese, Moroccan and Algerian units.

On the morning of July 24, attackers and defenders met near Maysalun, on a pass road to Damascus. The numerically far superior French succeeded in crushing the mostly poorly trained and armed with outdated weapons in a four-hour battle. Al-'Azmah was killed in the process.


On the day of the battle, the victors entered Damascus and forced Faisal to abdicate. This ended the Kingdom of Syria. The king went into exile in Great Britain. On September 1, 1920, General Gouraud proclaimed the state of Greater Lebanon as a French mandate. Exactly two years after the battle, on July 24, 1922, the League of Nations subsequently formally confirmed the mandate that France had already exercised.


  • David Murphy: The Arab Revolt 1916–18: Lawrence Sets Arabia Ablaze . Osprey Publishing, Oxford 2008, ISBN 978-1-84603-339-1 , p. 83.
  • Eliezer Tauber: The Formation of Modern Syria and Iraq . Frank Cass, Ilford and Newbury Park 1995, ISBN 0-7146-4105-7 .
  • Karl Ernest Meyer, Shareen Blair Brysac: Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East , WW Norton & Company, New York 2008, ISBN 978-0-393-06199-4 , p. 359.
  • Boutros Dib: Histoire du Liban . Editions Philippe Rey, Paris 2006, ISBN 2-84876-073-7 .
  • Sami M. Moubayed: The Politics of Damascus 1920-1946. Urban Notables and the French Mandate . Tlass House, Damascus 1999.


  1. ^ Elie Kedourie : England and the Middle East. The Destruction of the Ottoman Empire 1914-1921 . Mansell Publishing, London 1987, p. 167.
  2. ^ Eliezer Tauber: The Formation of Modern Iraq and Syria . Frank Cass, Ilford and Newbury Park 1995, ISBN 0-7146-4105-7 , p. 216.
  3. ^ Ali A. Allawi: Faisal I of Iraq . Yale University Press, New Haven 2014, ISBN 978-0-300-12732-4 , p. 289.
  4. ^ Philip S. Khoury: Syria and the French Mandate. The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945 . Princeton University Press, Princeton 1987, ISBN 0-691-05486-X , p. 97.
  5. ^ Joseph Massad : Colonial Effects: The Making of National Jordan . Columbia University Press, New York 2001, ISBN 0-231-12322-1 p. 102 ff.

Coordinates: 33 ° 36 '  N , 36 ° 4'  E