Thursday, February 11, 2010

Arab victory over the invading Chinese armies in 750 in a battle at the Talas River

Posted by newsonline at 2:03 PM 0 Comments

The Battle of Talas (怛羅斯會戰) in 751 AD was a conflict between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and the Chinese Tang Dynasty for control of the Syr Darya. On July 751, The Abbasids started a massive attack against the Chinese on the banks of the Talas river; 200,000 Muslim troops (according to Chinese estimates) met the combined army of 10,000 Tang Chinese and 20,000 Karluks mercenary. Out of 10,000 Tang troops, only 2000 managed to return from Talas to their territory in Central Asia.

The defeat was due to the defection of Karluk mercenaries and the retreat of Ferghana allies who originally supported the Chinese. The Karluks forces, which composed two thirds of the Tang army, deserted the Chinese coalition and changed to the Muslim side while the battle was ongoing. With the Karluk troops attacking the Tang army from the rear and the Arab attacking from the front, the Tang troops were unable to hold their positions. The commander of the Tang forces, Gao Xianzhi, recognized that defeat was imminent and managed to escape with some of his Tang regulars with the help of Li Siye. Despite losing the battle, Li did inflict heavy losses on the pursuing Arab army after being reproached by Duan Xiushi. After the battle, Gao was prepared to organize another Tang army against the Arabs when the devastating An Shi Rebellion broke out in 755. When the Tang capital was taken by rebels, all Chinese armies stationed in Central Asia were ordered back to China proper to crush the rebellion.

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