The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 30: The Conquest of Damascus

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 8

As the masked rider returned from his charge, he passed by Khalid, who called to him sternly to stop. The rider pulled up his horse, and Khalid continued, "You have done enough to fill our hearts with admiration. Who are you?"

Khalid nearly fell off his horse when he heard the reply of the masked rider, for it was the voice of a girl! "O commander, I only turn away from you out of modesty. You are the glorious commander, and I am of those who stay behind the veil. I fight like this because my heart is on fire."

"Who are you?"

"I am Khaulah, sister of Dhiraar. My brother has been captured, and I must fight to set him free."

Khalid marvelled at the old man, Al Azwar, who had fathered two such dauntless fighters, a boy and a girl. "Then come and attack with us", he said. 1

The Muslim attack continued in force and at about midday the Romans began to withdraw from the battlefield in good order. The Muslims followed, keeping up a steady pressure, but there was no sign of Dhiraar, dead or alive. Then, as good luck would have it, some local Arabs came to the Muslims with the information that they had seen 100 Romans riding to Emessa with a half-naked man in their midst, tied to his horse. Khalid at once guessed that Dhiraar had been sent away from the battlefield and ordered Raafe to take 100 picked riders, move wide around the flank of the Romans, get to the Emessa road and intercept the escort taking Dhiraar to Emessa. Raafe at once selected 100 stalwarts and set off, accompanied, of course, by Khaulah bint Al Azwar.

Raafe got to the Emessa road at a point which the escort had not yet reached and waited in ambush. When the 100 Romans arrived at this point, Raafe and his men assailed them, killed most of the soldiers and set Dhiraar free. The Naked Champion and his loving sister were happily reunited. The party again made a wide detour to avoid the Roman army, and rejoined Khalid who was very, very grateful to Raafe for rescuing Dhiraar.

Under the unrelenting pressure of the Muslims, the Romans increased the pace of their retreat. As the Muslims struck with greater ferocity, the retreat turned into a rout, and the Romans took to their heels and fled in the direction of Emessa.

Khalid could not pursue the fleeing enemy because he had to get back to Damascus. The Muslim forces investing the city had been weakened by 9,000 men with the departure of first Raafe's detachment and then the reinforcement of the Mobile Guard. In case the Romans should attack in strength against any Muslim corps, there would be a serious danger of their breaking through. Consequently Khalid sent only a mounted regiment under Samt bin Al Aswad to follow the Romans to Emessa. Samt got there in due course and found that the Romans had withdrawn into the fort. The local inhabitants of Emessa, however, approached Samt and let it be known that they had no desire to fight the Muslims, with whom they would make peace and even feed any soldiers quartered in their city. After a friendly exchange of messages, Samt returned to Damascus.

Meanwhile Khalid had rejoined the Muslim army at Damascus. He resumed command and re?established the Muslim dispositions as they had been before the appearance of the Roman relief column.

The news of the sad fate of the relief column spread among the inhabitants of Damascus, and it was a grievous blow indeed. The Damascenes had pinned their hopes on Heraclius sending such a force to save them. Heraclius had in fact done his best, but the hopes of the city had been shattered by Khalid's action at Bait Lihya. Heraclius could no doubt raise more forces, but that would take time. Meanwhile the supplies were running low and there was no fresh ray of hope to brighten the horizon and give assurance and strength to the people of Damascus.

1. Waqidi: p. 28.