Nur al-Din (born c. 1127) inherited Aleppo from Zengi, his father, in 1146. He was determined to unite the region’s Muslims against the Christian occupiers in Palestine and Syria. With the support of his brother, who had inherited Mosul, and the Abbasids in Baghdad, Nur al-Din massacred the Edessan Christians and took Antioch. In 1154, in an armed attack and after economic sanctions, he occupied ‘crusader friendly’ Damascus. For several decades, he fought against the Christian territories, but made little further progress. In the 1160s, the Egyptian Fatimid Empire was invaded by the crusaders. Nur al-Din’s army, led by Kurdish general, Shirkuh, defeated them. Shirkuh soon died, to be replaced by his nephew, Saladin. Saladin ended the Fatimid dynasty and took control of the Egyptian government and army. By 1174, the year of his death, Nur al-Din’s had unified the Islamic sects within the Near East.
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