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Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.

Principate

The Syrian army accounted for three legions of the Roman army, defending the Parthian border. In the 1st century, it was the Syrian army that enabled Vespasian's coup. Syria was of crucial strategic importance during the crisis of the third century.

From the later 2nd century, the Roman senate included several notable Syrians, including Claudius Pompeianus and Avidius Cassius. In 193, the province was divided into Syria Coele and Syria Phoenice. In the 3rd century, Syrians even reached for imperial power, with the Severan dynasty. From 260 to 273, Syria was part of the breakaway Palmyrene Empiremarker.

Dominate

Following the reforms of Diocletian, the two provinces became part of the Diocese of Oriens. Sometime between 330 and 350 (likely ca. 341), the province of Euphratensis was created out of the territory of Syria Coele along the western bank of the Euphrates and the former realm of Commagene, with Hierapolis as its capital. After ca. 415 Syria Coele was further subdivided into Syria I, with the capital remaining at Antiochmarker, and Syria II or Salutaris, with capital at Apamea on the Orontesmarker. In 528, Justinian I carved out the small coastal province Theodorias out of territory from both provinces. Syria Phoenice too was divided into Phoenice proper, with capital at Tyremarker, and Phoenicia Libanesia, with capital at Emesamarker.

The region remained one of the most important provinces of the Byzantine Empire, although in the 6th century it was plagued by Sassanid Persian incursions during the Roman-Persian Wars. It was occupied by the Sassanids between 609 and 628, when recovered by the emperor Heraclius, but lost again to the advancing Muslims after the battle of Yarmouk and the fall of Antioch.

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