Total defeat of the numerically superior Roman army at Yarmouk
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On February 11, 641 AD, Emperor Heraclius of Byzantium (Eastern Roman Empire), died at the age of 67, after suffering a string of defeats at the hands of the newly emergent Muslims and losing Syria and Egypt to the forces of Islam. Born into an Armenian family, he was the son of Heraclius the Elder, who had served as governor of the province of North Africa. In 610, on landing in Constantinople he overthrew Emperor Phocas and declared himself emperor in the midst of the war against Iran's Sassanid Empire that had inflicted a series of defeats on the Romans in Syria, Anatolia, and Egypt.
He took charge of the war, and although his first battles ended in defeat as the Iranian army advanced on the Bosphorus and besieged the capital Constantinople, Heraclius started rebuilding the military and twelve years later in 622 managed to push back the Persians out of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). In 624, he advanced into northern Media, where he destroyed the great fire-temple of Ganzhak. Two years later in 626, he captured Colchis in Georgia in the Caucasus from Iran, and then in 627 he penetrated Iraq, defeating the Iranians in the Battle of Nineveh. Soon the Sassanid Emperor, Khosrow II, was assassinated and peace was restored to the two deeply strained empires.
However, shortly after his victory, Heraclius, who some years earlier had received a letter of invitation to Islam from Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), faced Muslim armies in Syria, where he was defeated and withdrew, as the Muslims swept across the Levant. In order to check the Muslim advance, Heraclius entered into an alliance with the Iranian Emperor, Yazdegird III, and sent a massive army of Slavs, Greeks, Franks, Georgians, Armenians and Arab Christians.
The Muslim tactic by sending a separate force to Iraq, however, thwarted this alliance against Islam. Thus the total defeat of the numerically superior Roman army at Yarmouk (636) by lightly armed Muslims saw the fall of Damascus as well, and a year later led to the liberation of Bayt al-Moqaddas without bloodshed. As Muslim armies swept across Armenia and Egypt, the crestfallen Heraclius died.