Battle of Heliopolis, July 6, 640

On this day, July 06, 640, the Rashidun Caliphate forces defeated the Byzantine armies in the Battle of Heliopolis. It took place during the reign of Umar ibn al-Khattab.

The Muslim forces were commanded by Amr bin al-A’s while the Byzantines were led by Theodore. The victory opened the door for further Muslim conquest of North Africa.

Previously, after defeating the strong Byzantine forces at the Battle of Yarmouk in August 636, the Muslims annexed the Levant to the Rashidun Caliphate. On the eastern side, the Muslims crushed the Sassanids in the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah in November 636. Now, the Muslims turned their attention towards Egypt.

In December 639, Amr ibn al-A’s left for Egpyt after getting approval from the caliph Umar with a force of 4,000 men. On his way, he first took the important city of Pelusium in the eastern extremes of Egypt’s Nile Delta in February, 640.

After taking Pelusium, the Muslims marched to Belbeis via desert roads and besieged it. The city fell around the end of March 640. Even at the outposts of Pelusium and Belbeis, Amr’s armies had met significant resistance. Therefore, he asked for reinforcements from the Caliph.

Muslims arrived at Babylon sometime in May 640 and started besieging it. While besieging it, Amr felt the danger that forces from Heliopolis could attack the Muslims from the rear while they were engaged at Babylon. As a result, Amr with some detachments left Babylon and besieged Heliopolis.

The Muslim reinforcement armies arrived at Heliopolis in the first week of July, 640. The action began on July 6 (disputed date) and the Rashidun armies decisively defeated the Byzantines in the Battle of Heliopolis. From here, Amr once again turned towards Babylon, which would eventually fall in December 640 CE.

After taking Babylon, Amr ibn al-A’s now marched to Alexandria and finally conquered it in September 641.

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