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

Background

The Muslim Rashidun army achieved a decisive victory at the Battle of Yarmouk. Following this victory, they managed to gain control of the Levant. Jerusalem was conquered shortly afterwards. Rashidun forces then marched north, conquering other portions of the Levant. They penetrated into Anatoliamarker intending to capture Antiochmarker, 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 Azazmarker in southern Anatolia, east of the Taurus Mountainsmarker. The capture and clearance of Azaz was essential to ensure that no large Byzantine forces remained north of Aleppomarker, from where they could strike at the flank and rear of the Rashidun 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 directly from Aleppo via Harim and approached Antioch from the east.

The battle

Twelve miles from the city, near modern day Mahruba, a bridge of iron spanned the River Orontesmarker. It was here that the battle was fought between the Rashidun army and the Byzantine garrison, the defenders of Antiochmarker. A major battle was fought, the details of which are not recorded. Khalid bin Walid played a prominent role with his Mobile guard, as he had done during the Battle of Yarmouk. The Byzantine forces suffered heavy losses, and were subsequently defeated. The casualties suffered by the Byzantine army in this battle were the highest during the Muslim conquest of Syria, with the exceptions of Battle of Ajnadaynmarker and Battle of Yarmouk. The remnants of Byzantine army fled to Antiochmarker. The Rashidun army later moved up and laid siege to Antioch. The city surrendered on October 30, 637 A.D. According to the pact, the defeated Byzantine soldiers were allowed to depart in peace.

Aftermath

Following the surrender of Antioch, Rashidun army columns moved south along the Mediterraneanmarker coast and captured Latakiamarker, Jablahmarker and Tartusmarker(Syria), thus capturing most of north-western Syriamarker. Other columns were sent to subdue the remaining resistance in 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. The campaign was ended in early January of 638. 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. These columns went northwards as far as the Ararat plain and west towards the Taurus Mountainsmarker. The Taurus Mountains in Turkeymarker thus marked the westernmost frontiers of the Rashidun Caliphate in Anatolia.

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