The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 24: Anbar and Ain-ut-Tamr

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 3

Aqqa was flattered by the compliment. Seeing that his words were having the desired effect, Mahran continued: "You go and fight Khalid. And if you should need help, we shall be waiting here to come to your assistance."1

A number of Persian officers were standing beside Mahran during this exchange. When Aqqa had left, they questioned their commander: "What made you talk like that to this dog?"

"Leave this matter to me", Mahran replied. "I plan what is best for you and worst for them. If these Arabs win, the victory shall be ours too. If they lose, they will at least have weakened the army of Khalid, and we shall then fight when our enemy is tired and we are fresh." 2

The Persians remained at Ain-ut-Tamr while the Arabs, moved up about 10 miles on the road to Anbar. There, Aqqa deployed his Arab army for battle.

When Khalid arrived to face Aqqa, he was surprised to find an exclusively Arab force arrayed against him; for so far all his battles in Iraq had been fought against mixed forces of Persians and Arabs. However, he deployed his army with the usual centre and wings and placed himself in front of the centre, accompanied by a strong bodyguard. Across the battlefield, in front of the Arab centre, stood Aqqa. Khalid decided that he would take Aqqa alive.

When forming up the Muslims, Khalid had instructed the commanders of the wings to engage the enemy wings on his signal but not to attack with any great violence-only enough to tie down the enemy wings before he launched the attack of the centre. Now Khalid gave the signal, and the Muslim wings moved forward and engaged the opposing wings. For some time this action continued. Aqqa was left perplexed about why the Muslim centre was not attacking. Then Khalid, followed by his bodyguard, charged at Aqqa.

The bodyguard engaged the Arab warriors who stood near Aqqa, while Khalid and Aqqa began to duel. Aqqa was a brave and skilful fighter, prepared to give as good as he took; but to his dismay he soon found himself overpowered and captured by Khalid. When the soldiers in the Arab centre saw heir commander captive, many of them surrendered and the rest of the centre turned and fled. Its example was followed by the wings; and the Arab army, leaving many of its officers in Muslim hands, retreated in haste to Ain-ut-Tamr.

The Arabs arrived at the fort to find the Persians gone. Mahran had sent a few scouts to watch the battle and report its progress. As soon as they saw the Arabs turn their backs to Khalid, these scouts galloped back to inform Mahran of the Arab defeat. Without wasting a moment Mahran led his army out of Ain-ut-Tamr and marched off to Ctesiphon. Discovering that they had been abandoned, the Arabs rushed into the fort, closed the gates, and prepared rather uncertainly for a siege.

The Muslims arrived and besieged the fort. Aqqa and the prisoners were paraded outside the fort, so that the defenders could see that their commander and comrades were helpless captives. This had an unnerving effect on the defenders, who called for a surrender on terms, but Khalid rejected the call. There would be no terms; they could surrender unconditionally and place themselves at his mercy. The Arab elders debated the situation for a while, and then decided that an unconditional surrender involved less risk than fighting on; for in the latter case their chances of survival would be slim indeed. In the end of July 633 (middle of Jamadi-ul-Awwal, 12 Hijri) the defenders of Ain-ut-Tamr surrendered to Khalid.

On the orders of Khalid, warriors who had defended the fort and those who had fought the Muslims on the road to Anbar were beheaded. 3 These included the chief Aqqa bin Abi Aqqa. The remainder were made captive, and the wealth of Ain-ut-Tamr was taken and distributed as spoils of war.

In Ain-ut-Tamr there was a monastery in which the Muslims found 40 boys-mainly Arabs-who were being trained for the priesthood. They were all taken captive. Among these captives there was a boy called Nusair, who was later to have a son called Musa, and Musa would become famous as the Muslim governor of North Africa and the man who launched Tariq bin Ziyad into Spain.

After a few days spent in dealing with problems of organisation and administration, Khalid prepared to return to Hira. He was about to set out when he received a call for help from Northern Arabia. After a brief consideration of this request, Khalid changed the direction of his march and gave his men a new destination-Daumat-ul-Jandal.

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 576.
2. Ibid: p. 577.
3. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 577.