|This article does not cite any references or sources. (November 2006)|
General Yusuf al-'Azma 1883-1920
|Minister of War and Chief of Staff|
1918 – 24 July 1920
|Died||24 July 1920(aged 36–37)|
|Alma mater||Ottoman Military Academy|
|Allegiance|| Ottoman Empire (to 1918)
Arab Kingdom of Syria (to 1920)
|Years of service||1906 – 1920|
Yusuf al-'Azmah (Arabic: يوسف العظمة, ALA-LC: Yūsuf al-‘Aẓmah; 1883 – July 24, 1920) was the Syrian Minister of War and Chief of Staff under Prince (then King) Faisal (later to become Faisal I of Iraq) from 1918 to 1920.
The League of Nations having given the French Mandate of Syria as planned in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between the United Kingdom and France, the French General Gouraud issued an ultimatum to the Syrian government in 1920 to disband its troops and submit to French control. The government of Damascus submitted reluctantly to the French ultimatum and disbanded its troops. In spite of King Faisal's acceptance of France's ultimatum, Yusuf al-'Azmah refused to give in. He raised a small body of disbanded troops and civilians, poorly armed relative to the modern, well-equipped professional French Army. Although he had no illusions about the outcome of the battle, al-'Azmah wanted to make it clear that Syria would not surrender without fighting, in order to deny the French occupation any legitimacy.
Certain of his own death, al-'Azmah left Damascus with his troops and headed for Maysalun, some 12 miles to the west of Damascus, where he led a desperate and very unequal battle against the French army of General Gouraud on 24 July 1920. Al-'Azmah was killed in the fighting, and the French forces entered Damascus on 25 July 1920.
For Syrians, Yusuf al-'Azmah is a national hero and an inspiration. His statue stands in a major square in central Damascus, with streets and schools named in his honor in cities all over Syria.