Syria-Lebanon Campaign

World War II: The Middle Eastern Theater

Southern Asia 1941.0708

Syria-Lebanon Campaign

World War II, East African Campaign, Allied invasions of Syria, Iraq and Iran (8 July 1941)

Historical Map of South & Southwest Asia

The Vichy French in Syria and Lebanon not only supported the pro-German coup in Iraq but agreed to host German forces, threatening the British position in Egypt. To forestall further German moves in Syria and Lebanon, the British and Free French invaded and occupied the mandate.

Notes

Changes to the map 22 May 1941 - 08 July 1941

Syria-Lebanon Campaign: British forces have invaded Lebanon and Syria from Palestine and Transjordan in the south, and Iraq in the northeast. They have taken Damascus and Palmyra, and are now outside Beirut and Homs.

Anglo-Iraqi War: The British have captured Baghdad and Mosul, reinstalling a compliant regime in Iraq.

East African Campaign: The Italians have been reduced to the Gondar area, where they are preparing for a last stand.

British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf

The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintained British India's influence in a number of Gulf states from the 19th Century until 1947. These states were nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman was the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.

Trucial Oman was the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region were often called the Trucial States, and later became the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they had little unity, with no regional council until 1952.

Indian Empire

The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, was comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.

The area under direct British rule was known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.

Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, were the hundreds of protectorates or 'princely states'. These were indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others were either collected into agencies - which might in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fell under the sway of the provinces.

Main Events

Operation Exporter

In Operation Exporter, British, Australian, Indian, and Free French forces under Archibald Wavell cross the Palestine border into Vichy French Syria and Lebanon. At the same time, British troops from Iraq invade Syria from the east. Damascus falls on 12 June, but the local Vichy French leader General Henri Dentz holds out in the north for another month before surrendering.

Operation Barbarossa

At 3:15 am the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany launch the invasion of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, bombing cities in a broad arc from Kronstadt to Sevastopol as some three million troops advance across the border. Within hours the momentum of the Axis attacks have completely destroyed the Soviet organizational command and control, paralyzing every level of command, and it is only at 7:15 am that Soviet leader Josef Stalin announces the invasion to the Soviet Armed Forces and calls upon them to act.

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