More than a hundred years on from WW1, we remember that Turkish soldiers were kept prisoners in battles on Arab soil
The world commemorates a more than century since the First World War ended with the victory of Britain, France and others over Germany and the Ottoman Empire.
The Arab region witnessed different battles between the allies and the Arabs who supported them, and other Arabs who supported the Turkish forces. Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula saw some of the most important battlefields that ended with the defeat of the Ottoman forces and their final exit from the Arab soil.
The “Great Arab Revolution” erupted in 1916, the third year of World War I. It was sparked when untrained Arab fighters waged combat operations as regular soldiers, in June 1916 on the Ottoman garrisons in both Mecca and Medina.
When the attacks failed to achieve any success, the assault forces retreated after a few days and imposed a siege on the two garrisons, and it did not last long when the garrison of Mecca surrendered, so Britain sent military reinforcements to help the Arab forces, including an artillery battalion that came from Egypt, which was then under British occupation, and participated heavily in Conquest of Mecca in July 1916.
However, the city’s garrison successfully eluded the attackers due to the uncut supplies to it from Syria via the Hejaz Railway, as the Turkish forces reinforced their troops in the city.
After that, the Turkish forces prepared to march on Mecca to eliminate the rebellion there, and those forces clashed with Arab fighters led by Prince Faisal bin Sharif Hussein bin Ali, and the Turkish forces managed reaching 30 km from the port of Rabigh on the Red Sea and the Arab forces failed to stop the advancement of the systemic Turkish forces.
The Arab forces planned to attack the supply line of the Turkish forces, which is the Hejaz Railway, which used to extend for a distance of approximately 1,300 km, as that was the distance between the Madina and Damascus.
In early 1917, Faisal’s forces left Makkah and Rabigh and headed north towards the “Wajh” area, 320 km north of Makkah. Before those forces launched any battle against the Turkish forces, panic and fear had erupted in the ranks of the latter, and their forces withdrew from the outskirts of Rabigh to Medina.
Half of the Turkish forces, led by General Umar Fakhreddin Pasha, fortified in the city and resisted Arab attacks by getting restricted to their positions until early 1919, while the other half were deployed along the Hejaz Railway with the aim of protecting it from attacks by Arab tribesmen. Participation process
The British navy and aviation also participated in bombing Turkish targets on the coast of the Red Sea, and the Arab forces were able to control all the Red Sea ports and cities, and hundreds of Turkish soldiers were arrested, who got later thrown into the battles against the Turkish forces.
Britain and France sent soldiers from Egypt, North Africa and India to participate in the battles against the Turkish forces, and one of the most prominent leaders who participated in the battles in terms of direction and leadership was The Lawrence of Arabia.
In 1917, Prince Faisal’s forces, under the direction of Lawrence of Arabia, launched a quick attack on the port of Aqaba and took control of it. The Arab forces succeeded in occupying an area of 160,000 square kilometers without incurring any losses.
With the end of the war and the stoppage of fighting, 35,000 Turkish soldiers were captured by the Arab forces, while the same number were killed or wounded.
The battles between the Arab forces and the Turkish army kept going until the end of 1918, amid of clear retreat of the Turks, and the Arab forces reached the Syrian capital, Damascus, at the end of the war. All of that were. That coincided with the conclusion of the Mudros agreement between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire, which ended the battles between the two parties.