Years: 1920-1920 | Est. deaths: 5 000
Published prior to 2013
The Battle of Maysalun, also called The Battle of Maysalun Pass, took place between Syrian and French forces some 12 miles west of Damascus on July 23, 1920. The battle occurred when the French moved to topple the newly proclaimed nationalist government of Hashim al-Atassi under King Faisal. An independent Kingdom of Syria had recently been proclaimed after an Arab army led by British colonel T. E. Lawrence defeated the Ottomans and captured Damascus. However, as a result of negotiations between the western powers at the San Remo conference, and the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France, the French were given a mandate over Syria by the League of Nations, which Faisal and his government refused to recognize. Faisal also refused to recognize Lebanese independence from "Greater Syria". The French had set up the republic on the remnants of a former Ottoman Christian-majority autonomous province. The French forces advanced out of Beirut and were led by General Gouraud. Some Maronite Lebanese reportedly fought on the French side, unwilling to join a Muslim-dominated Kingdom of Syria. General Yusuf Al Azmah (36 years old), who was killed in the battle, led the Syrian forces. The French forces easily defeated the newly formed Syrian army and the King was exiled. There were open Maronite celebrations at the French victory. The battle ushered in the new era of French colonialism and led to more revolts in North Syria and Damascus.