On this day, 25 March 1917 CE, the Sixth Ottoman army under the command of Ali İhsan Bey defeated the British forces in the Battle of Jebel Hamrin. Led by General Keary, the British Indian force of 8,000 men was concerned to prevent Ali İhsan Bey’s force from joining Khalil Pasha’s main force of 10,000 men retreating from Baghdad.
After Baghdad fell to the British on March 11, 1917, there were still 10,000 Ottoman troops north of the city, led by Halil Pasha, who could represent a threat to the British. Another 15,000 Ottomans under Ali Ihsan Bey were being driven out of Persia by the Russians and were attempting at joining Khalil’s forces in northern Iraq.
General Keary, intending to get rid of Ali Ihsan Bey’s 15,000 men’s threat, moved towards the new Turkish troops’ position in the Hamrin mountains. Keary wanted to squeeze the Turkish forces between both his and (he presumed) the pursuing Russian Persian forces. But the Russian army had already dissolved because of the advent of the Russian Revolution in March 1917.
As a result, General Keary’s forces were the only forces that were pursuing Ihsan Bey’s troops. The British began the assault shortly after dawn on 25 March 1917. Meanwhile, 4,500 men of Ihsan Bey’s force had already proceeded to dig secure lines on high ground behind two canals among the mountains.
Around 1200 British men were killed in the battle. At the end of the day, Keary broke off the engagement to prevent further casualties.
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