Battle of Iron bridge

Battle of Iron bridge

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Iron Bridge
partof=Byzantine-Arab Wars and
Campaigns of Khalid ibn al-Walid

caption=The River Orontes,Antioch, the battle was fought near this river .
date=October 637 AD
result=Antioch captured by Rashidun Caliphate.
combatant1=Rashidun Caliphate
combatant2=Byzantine Empire, Christian Arabs
commander1=Khalid ibn al-Walid,
Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah
strength1=17,000cite book |first=A.I. last=Akram |title=The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life and Campaigns, chapter 36 |publisher=Nat. Publishing. House, Rawalpindi |year=1970 |isbn=0-71010-104-X ]

The Battle of Iron Bridge was fought between the Rashidun army and the Byzantine army, near an "Iron bridge" spanning the River Orontes in 637 A.D, from which the battle takes its name. The campaigns in Anatolia were undertaken after the decisive Rashidun Caliphate victory at the Battle of Yarmouk.


After the decisive victory at the Battle of Yarmouk, the Muslim army regained control of the Levant, then Jerusalem was conquered shortly after. Afterwards, Muslim forces marched north, conquering other portions of the Levant. They penetrated into Anatolia with the objective to capture Antioch the capital of the Asian part of the Byzantine empire and to secure Syria from any possible threat from the north. After the conquest of Aleppo, Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah sent a column under Malik al-Ashtar to capture Azaz in southern Anatolia, east of the Taurus Mountains. The capture and clearance of Azaz was essential to ensure that no large Byzantine forces remained north of Aleppo, from where they could strike at the flank and rear of the Muslim army during the operation against Antioch. As soon as Malik rejoined the army, Abu Ubaidah marched westwards to capture Antioch, with Khalid ibn Walid leading the advance guard with his Mobile guard. The army marched westward direct from Aleppo via Harim and approached Antioch from the east. [al-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir. "History of the Prophets and Kings", Vol. 3, p. 98.]

The battle

Twelve miles from the city, near modern day "Mahruba", a bridge of iron spanned the River Orontes. It was here that the battle was fought between the Muslim army and the Byzantine garrison, the defenders of Antioch. A major battle was fought, the details of which are not recorded. Khalid bin Walid again played a prominent role with his Mobile guard, as he had done so in the Battle of Yarmouk. The Byzantine forces were defeated with heavy losses. With the exception of Battle of Ajnadayn and Battle of Yarmouk, the Byzantine army's casualties here are believed to have been the highest during the Muslim conquest of Syria. [al-Tabari, Muhammad Ibn Jarir. "History of the Prophets and Kings", Vol. 3, pp.: 99-100.] The remnants of Byzantine army fled to Antioch. The Muslims' army moved up and laid siege to Antioch. The city surrendered to the Muslims on October 30, 637 A.D. According to the pact, the defeated Byzantine soldiers were allowed to depart in peace.


Following the surrender of Antioch, Muslim army columns moved south along the Mediterranean coast and captured Latakia, Jablah and Tartus("Syria"), thus clearing most of north-western Syria of the enemy. Other columns were sent to subdue what remained of northern Syria. Khalid ibn Walid was sent with his cavalry on a raid eastwards up to the Euphrates in the vicinity of Munbij, but found little opposition. In early January, 638 the campaign was over. After the defeat of pro-Byzantine Christian Arabs from Jazira who laid the siege of Emessa in March 638 A.D, Abu Ubaidah sent more columns under Khalid ibn Walid and Ayadh ibn Ghanam to subdue Jazira near the Syrian frontiers and in Anatolia, towards the north as far as the Ararat plain and west towards the Taurus Mountains. The Taurus Mountains in Turkey thus marked the westernmost frontiers of the Rashidun Caliphate in Anatolia. [cite book |first=A.I. last=Akram |title=The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life and Campaigns |publisher=Nat. Publishing. House, Rawalpindi |year=1970 |isbn=0-71010-104-X]


External links

* [ A.I. Akram, "The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life and Campaigns" Lahore, 1969]

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