Islamic Army of the Caucasus

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This article is about the Ottoman military force. For the Palestinian group, see Army of Islam (Gaza Strip). For the Syrian rebel coalition, see Army of Islam (Syria).
Islamic Army of the Caucasus
Baku az vs.jpg
Ottoman artillery bombing Baku
Active July 10, 1918[1] - October 27, 1918[2]
Country Ottoman Empire
Type Corps (although named as an army)
Size 20,000 soldiers
Part of Eastern Army Group
Garrison/HQ Yelizavetpol, Baku
Engagements Battle of Baku
Ceremonial chief Enver Pasha
Nuri Pasha (Killigil)

The Islamic Army of the Caucasus (Azerbaijani: Qafqaz İslam Ordusu; Turkish: Kafkas İslâm Ordusu) (also translated as Caucasian Army of Islam) was a military unit of the Ottoman Empire formed on July 10, 1918.[1] The Ottoman Minister of War, Enver Pasha, ordered its establishment,[1] and it played a major role during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I.


During 1917, due to the Russian Revolution and subsequent Civil War, the Russian army in the Caucasus had ceased to exist. The Russian Provisional Government's Caucasus Front formally ceased to exist in March 1918. Meanwhile, the Committee of Union and Progress moved to win the friendship of the Bolsheviks with the signing of the Ottoman-Russian friendship treaty (January 1, 1918). The exclusion of German officers from this army was deliberate. By the end of 1917, Enver Pasha concluded that the Germans and the Ottoman Empire did not have compatible goals after the Russian Empire had collapsed. This feeling was confirmed by the terms of the treaty of Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which was very favorable to the Germans. Enver looked for victory where Russia left in the Caucasus. When Enver discussed his plans for taking over southern Russia, the Germans told him to keep out[citation needed].

The purpose of this military unit was to mobilize Muslim supporters in Transcaspian and Caucasian regions, to advance toward Shatt al-Arab through Persia and to entrap British forces in Mesopotamia.[1] Nuri Pasha came to Yelizavetpol (present day: Ganja) on May 25, 1918 and began to organize the Army of Islam.[3]

Order of Battle, 1918[edit]



Operational map

Chief of the British Military Mission to the Caucasus Major General Lionel Charles Dunsterville reached Bandar-e Anzali in mid-February and organized a small military force called "Dunsterforce" of Cossacks, Russians and Azeris. The British authority worried by the advance of the Ottoman forces to the Baku oil fields and began to send reinforcements to the "Dunsterforce" in June 1918.[6]

The Islamic Army of the Caucasus began to attack Hill 905 on July 31 to the northwest of Baku, but failed to get the hill and halted their attack on August 2. Major General L.C. Dunsterville coordinated future combined operations with the Cossack forces commended by Colonel Lazar Bicherakhov, and sent about 300 British soldiers to Baku and they arrived there on August 5. The Islamic Army of the Caucasus launched second attack to Hill 905 on August 5. This attack failed again and they lost 547 officers and soldiers. The main body of "Dunsterforce" decamped from Baku on August 20.[6]

The last attack of the Islamic Army of the Caucasus on Baku began at 1:00 A.M. on September 14. The Ottoman 15th Division attacked from the north and the 5th Caucasian Division attacked from the west. British Major General Dunsterville decided to withdraw about 11:00 A.M. because of the failure of the defense. "Dunsterforce" loaded its personnel and equipment and set sail for Bandar-e Anzali by 10:00 P.M. on September 14.[7]

The Army of Islam took Baku on September 15 and sent a telegraph announcing the capture of Baku to Enver Pasha on September 16.[7]

North Caucasus[edit]

The Islamic Army of the Caucasus sent the 15th Division to North Caucasus after its reorganization. The 15th Division advanced northwards along the Caspian coast, encountered the local resistance in front of Derbent and spotted advance on October 7. The division restarted attack on Derbent on October 20 and occupied the city on October 26. The division continued to advance northwards and arrived at the gate of Petrovsk (present day: Makhachkala) on October 28 and occupied the city on November 8.[7]



  1. ^ a b c d Edward J. Erickson, Order to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War, Greenwoodpress, 2001, ISBN 0-313-31516-7, p. 189.
  2. ^ Zekeriya Türkmen, Mütareke Döneminde Ordunun Durumu ve Yeniden Yapılanması (1918-1920), Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, 2001, ISBN 975-16-1372-8, p. 31. (Turkish)
  3. ^ Ajun Kurter, Türk Hava Kuvvetleri Tarihi, Cilt: IV, 3rd edition, Türk Hava Kuvvetleri Komutanlığı, 2009, p. 92. (Turkish)
  4. ^ Nâsir Yücer, Birinci Dünya Savaşı'nda Osmanlı Ordusu'nun Azerbaycan ve Dağıstan Harekâtı: Azerbaycan ve Dağıstan'ın Bağımsızlığını Kazanması, 1918, Genelkurmay Basım Evi, 1996, ISBN 978-975-00524-0-8, p. 75. (Turkish)
  5. ^ Nâsir Yücer, Birinci Dünya Savaşı'nda Osmanlı Ordusu'nun Azerbaycan ve Dağıstan Harekâtı: Azerbaycan ve Dağıstan'ın Bağımsızlığını Kazanması, 1918, p. 177. (Turkish)
  6. ^ a b Edward J. Erickson, Order to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War, Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-31516-7, p. 191.
  7. ^ a b c Edward J. Erickson, Order to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War, p. 192.


  • Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace, pp. 354–355. Avon Books.
  • Süleyman İzzet, Büyük Harpte (1334-1918) 15. Piyade Tümeninin Azerbaycan ve Şimali Kafkasyadaki Harekât ve Muharebeleri, Askerî Matbaa, 1936.(Turkish)
  • Rüştü Türker, Birinci Dünya Harbi'nde Bakû yollarında 5 nci Kafkas Piyade Tümeni, Genelkurmay Askerî Tarih ve Stratejik Etüt Başkanlığı, 2006.(Turkish)

External links[edit]