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Yusuf al-'Azma
General Yusuf al-'Azma 1883-1920
Minister of War and Chief of Staff

In office
1918 – 24 July 1920
Monarch Faisal I
Personal details
Born 1883
Died July 24, 1920(1920-07-24)
Alma mater Ottoman Military Academy
Profession Minister, Soldier
Religion Sunni Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Ottoman Empire (to 1916)
Flag of Kingdom of Syria (1920-03-08 to 1920-07-24).svg Arab Kingdom of Syria (to 1920)
Service/branch Syrian Army
Years of service 1906 – 1920
Battles/wars World War I

Franco–Syrian War

Yusuf al-'Azmah (Arabic language: يوسف العظمة‎, ALA-LC: Yūsuf al-‘Aẓmah; 1883 – July 24, 1920) was the Syrian Minister of War and Chief of Staff under Prince (then King) Faisal (later to become Faisal I of Iraq) from 1918 to 1920.

Al-'Azmah graduated from the Ottoman Military Academy in Istanbul in 1906. He served as a General in the Ottoman army, and led the Ottoman army in the Caucasus, before joining the Arab revolt against the Ottomans which gave Syria its independence in 1918.[citation needed]

The League of Nations having given the French Mandate of Syria as planned in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between the United Kingdom and France, the French General Gouraud issued an ultimatum to the Syrian government in 1920 to disband its troops and submit to French control. The government of Damascus submitted reluctantly to the French ultimatum and disbanded its troops. In spite of King Faisal's acceptance of France's ultimatum, Yusuf al-'Azmah refused to give in. He raised a small body of disbanded troops and civilians, poorly armed relative to the modern, well-equipped professional French Army. Although he had no illusions about the outcome of the battle, al-'Azmah wanted to make it clear that Syria would not surrender without fighting, in order to deny the French occupation any legitimacy.[citation needed]

Certain of his own death[citation needed], al-'Azmah left Damascus with his troops and headed for Maysalun, some 12 miles to the west of Damascus, where he led a desperate and very unequal battle against the French army of General Gouraud on 24 July 1920. Al-'Azmah was killed in the fighting, and the French forces entered Damascus on 25 July 1920.

For Syrians, Yusuf al-'Azmah is a national hero and an inspiration. His statue stands in a major square in central Damascus, with streets and schools named in his honor in cities all over Syria.

General Yusuf al-'Azmah in military uniform as Minister of War in Syria

See also

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