Fatimid Caliphate

Battle of Alexandretta
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971 Mar 1

Battle of Alexandretta

İskenderun, Hatay, Turkey

The Battle of Alexandretta was the first clash between the forces of the Byzantine Empire and the Fatimid Caliphate in Syria. It was fought in early 971 near Alexandretta, while the main Fatimid army was besieging Antioch, which the Byzantines had captured two years previously. The Byzantines, led by one of Emperor John I Tzimiskes' household eunuchs, lured a 4,000-strong Fatimid detachment to attack their empty encampment and then attacked them from all sides, destroying the Fatimid force. The defeat at Alexandretta, coupled with the Qarmatian invasion of southern Syria, forced the Fatimids to lift the siege and secured Byzantine control of Antioch and northern Syria.

The first clash between the eastern Mediterranean's two foremost powers thus ended in a Byzantine victory, which on the one hand strengthened the Byzantine position in northern Syria and on the other weakened the Fatimids, both in lives lost and in morale and reputation.

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Last Updated: Tue Aug 30 2022