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The Battle for Syria, 1918-1920


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This book charts the continuing war between Britain and France on the one side and the Turkish Empire on the other following the British capture of Jerusalem in 1917. It outlines how the British prepared for their advance, bringing in Indian and Australian troops; how the Turks were defeated at the great Battle of Megiddo in September 1918; and how Damascus fell, the Australians and the Arab army, which had harassed the Turks in the desert, arriving almost simultaneously. It goes on to relate how the French arrived, late, to take over territory allocated to them in the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1915, territory which included both Syria and Lebanon; how influenza had a severely detrimental impact on the allied advance; and how the Turks regrouped, successfully, north of Aleppo, and prevented further allied advance. The book also discusses the peace negotiations which followed the armistice, examining how nationalist aspirations were thwarted, how the French imperial grip on Syria was gradually strengthened, and how the Arab leader, Faisal, ousted from Syria, was provided with a kingdom by the British in Iraq. At a time when new turmoil in Syria is again in the headlines, this study provides exceptionally timely information on how Syria was fought over and shaped as rule over the country by the Turkish Empire was ended.

John D. Grainger is the author of numerous books for a variety of publishers, including five previously published books for Boydell and Brewer, including The Battle for Palestine, 1917 and Dictionary of British Naval Battles.


An excellent military history of Allenby's campaigns, with good material from the Ottoman side of the line. HISTORY OF WAR.ORG

Grainger does an excellent job analyzing the motivations and war aims of major combatant countries and important rebel groups. [It] is an excellent military history which makes extensive use of a wide variety of primary sources. . It is almost impossible to read this work without being struck by how many of the decisions made in this era are still playing themselves out in contemporary times. MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL, vol. 68, no. 1

Grainger's great contribution in this book is to put the Middle Eastern war in a wider context than some previous scholars have done. H-WAR

An efficient and comprehensive summary. MILITARY HISTORY MONTHLY

Grainger is an admirably clear-headed guide through the historical quicksands and thickets of his subject matter. [He] has produced a learned, deeply considered and tightly written book that deserves to be seen as the definitive version of a momentous episode in the making of the Middle East. BBC HISTORY


First Published: 17 Jan 2013
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843838036
16 black and white, 6 line drawing illustrations
Pages: 270
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  Defeats
  • 3  The Turks
  • 4  The New Army
  • 5  The Arabs
  • 6  The French
  • 7  The Plan
  • 8  Preparations
  • 9  Preliminaries
  • 10  The Infantry Battle
  • 11  The Cavalry Battle
  • 12  The East, Haifa, Samakh
  • 13  Damascus and Beirut
  • 14  Aleppo and Haritan
  • 15  The Occupied Territories
  • 16  Problems with the Army
  • 17  Rebellion in Egypt
  • 18  France and Syria
  • 19  Conclusion

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