French campaign in Egypt and Syria
1800 Mar 20
Battle of HeliopolisHeliopolis, Egypt
Kléber engaged in negotiations with both the British and Ottomans, with the aim of honourably evacuating the remains of the French force from Egypt to take part in operations in Europe. An accord (the Convention of El Arish) was concluded on 23 January 1800 allowing such a return to France, but it proved impossible to apply due to internal dissensions among the British and the dithering of the Sultan, and so the conflict in Egypt restarted. Kléber was betrayed by the British Admiral Keith, who did not respect the El Arish convention. He therefore restarted hostilities, for he refused to surrender. The British and the Ottomans believed the armée d'Orient was now too weak to resist them, and so Yussuf Pasha marched on Cairo, where the local population obeyed his call to revolt against French rule. Although he had no more than 10,000 men, Kléber attacked the British-supported Turkish force at Heliopolis. Against all expectations, the heavily outnumbered French defeated the Ottoman army and retook Cairo.