SYRIA, the name given generally to the land lying between the easternmost shore of the Levantine Gulf and a natural inland boundary formed in part by the Middle Euphrates and in part by the western edge of the Hamad or desert steppe.
Since, however, the steppe edge on the east is somewhat indefinite, some early Moslem and other geographers have included all the Hamad in Syria, making of the latter a blunt-headed triangle with a base some 700 m.
Taking Syria as the strip limited by the sea, the edge of the Hamad, the Taurus and the Sinaitic desert, we have a remarkably homogeneous geographical area with very obvious natural boundaries; but these, for various reasons, have proved very Scale, 1:7.soo.000
Zbtieir frontier obliquely from the Gulf of Akeba to Rakka (Raqqa) on Euphrates, and thus placed the Hamad in Arabia.
This tract, known as the Hamad, is a Syrian gravelly plain unbroken by any considerable range of hills desert.
Below the average level of the Hamad, crosses it from north-east to south-west between Hauran and Jauf; it has a nearly uniform height above sea-level of 1850 ft., and appears to be the bed of an inland sea rather than a true watercourse.
Though almost waterless, it is in fact better wooded and richer in pasture than any part of the Hamad; the sand-hills are dotted with ghada, a species of tamarisk, and other bushes, and several grasses and succulent plants - among them the adar, on which sheep are said to feed for a month without requiring water - are found in abundance in good seasons.
For thirteen days a cannonade of the town was continued without effect; and on the 20th of April, news having come in from the advanced guard at Hamad of large reinforcements to the besieged, General Stewart was compelled to retreat; and a dragoon was despatched to Lieutenant-colonel Macleod, commanding at Hamad, with orders to fall back.