Damascus 634

$3.95

Map Code: Ax00586

In the early 7th century, Damascus was part of the Byzantine Empire and one of the foremost commercial and cultural centres of the Middle East. It had fortifications matching its importance, enclosed by 36-ft (11-m) high walls, and its defending forces were commanded by Thomas, son-in-law of the Byzantine emperor. In 633, Abu Bakr, the first Rashidun caliph and successor to the prophet Muhammad, had declared war on the Byzantine Empire, invading their Levantine dominions. After a succession of victories, the Muslim armies closed in on Damascus, first cutting its supply routes before, on 21 August 634, laying siege to the city. After defeating an army sent to relieve the city, and twice repelling sorties from its defenders, Khalid, the Muslim general, succeeding in storming the East Gate. The defenders were spared and given three days’ grace to flee, but were then chased down and routed by the Muslims

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