The Syrian Front
Part of The Levant and Balkan War
Cde124af-b8ba-45ef-b09e-8c88c9fc85c5 16x9 788x442
Date August 1854 - June 1855
Location Syria, Egypt Eyalet
Result Decisive Ottoman Victory
Flag of Muhammad Ali Egypt
Flag of the Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Muhammad Ali Muhammad Sa'id Pasha of Egypt Flag of the Ottoman Empire Abdülmecid I

Flag of the Ottoman Empire Mehmet Vasıf Pasa Gürcü

 The Syrian Front (also known as the Aleppo Front) was one of the composite battlegrounds of the the Levant and Balkan War, lasting from August 1854-1855, when the Danubian summer offensive refocused the war in Europe. Focused around northern Syria, the Ottoman Empire launched an invasion of the Egyptian Levant - intent on recapturing the territory lost during the previous two wars against the Egyptians. After a swift incursion, the Ottomans would score a series of triumphs, dismantling Egypt's defense capability in Syria. This campaign occurred simultaneously with the Libyan and Egyptian fronts. 

Prelude to the Invasion

Following the attack on the DFS Sofa, Ottoman troops amassed at the Syrian border. Led by Müşir Mehmet Vasıf Pasa Gürcü , the Turks awaited British reinforcements to assist in the invasion, expecting supply convoys by Her Majesty's army. When British intervention was thwarted by the Danubian Foreign Minister, Mehmet crossed the border alongside more then 90,000 soldiers. His advance was halted by order of the Sultan, who was considering a redirection of forces to the European front, but the order to turn around never came, allowing Mehmet to begin the strike. 

The Invasion

The Ottoman flood into northern Syria was no surprise to the defending Egyptian armies. The Egyptians sought an early decisive victory, concerned that the Ottoman troops in Libya would take advantage of a prolonged Syrian struggle. The threat of a endangered Egypt drove the forces of Muhammad Sa'id Pasha into adopting a offensive strategy. Setting their focus on Gaziantep, a contested border city, Pasha led a sizable Egyptian contingency to capture the city and halt the Ottoman invasion in its tracks. With 20,000 men, Pasha laid siege to Gaziantep, which had been captured by Mehmet just days before. 

The Wali held the siege for nearly a month, but repeated logistical failures, including Turkish cavalry raids, forced him to break the siege and withdraw south. By mid-September, the Egyptian army had retreated to the coast, near the city of Dörtyol. The withdrawal was a sour strategic choice, for the location pinned itself between the coast and an advancing Ottoman force, allowing Mehmet to encircle the Wali with nearly three Turkish armies. Saved from destruction by a counterattack in the south, relieving Egyptian armies assaulted the Ottoman right wing. At Konak, in December, the counter-Egyptian armies were defeated by the Sultan's personal army. Defeated and nerely destroyed, Muhammad sought shelter near Aleppo, while the three Ottoman armies approached with increasing speed. 

Battle of Aleppo 

By late March, the Egyptian position of defense had become unsustainable. Supply routes were under consistent raids, orchestrated by thr Turks, while troop transports pulled weary soldiers en masse away from the vanguard. The technological strives implemented by Muhammad Ali became insiginificant in the presence of overwhelming Ottoman force, bearing down on the city of Aleppo. The local forces, under the auspices of the regional governor, marched towards the approching forces despite the slim odds of victory. Seemingly isolated, the Wali approved the desperate course of action, providing 20,000 troops to the defense.  Marching from the city, the Egyptian Army took position at Anadan, seven miles north-west of Aleppo. Simultaneously, Gürcü directed his own army to the east of Aleppo, compelling the Egyptians to stretch their line. 

The spread formation of the Egyptian army left its centre vulnerable, a weakness that was noticeable to the second Ottoman General, commanding the middle force. As the Turks attacked the wings, the middle army sent its vanguard cavalry to strike the Egyptians in their middle. The assault was repeled by reserve re-inforcements, but the defenders sustained considerable damage. Not long after, the Egyptian flanks retreated under general order, leaving the middle force vulnerable to another strike. Mehmet took the advantage of the withdrawal, launching an outflanking maneuever, threatening to encircle the north of Aleppo. 

The Egyptian Armies abandoned the city, draped in artilerry fire. Turkish cavalry pursued the routing force for nearly seven miles, before turning back to occupy the city. By the end of the day, nearly 8000 Egyptians had perished - while the Turks had suffered more (but proportionately less) casualties, amounting to 11,000.