In November 1114, a severe earthquake struck the Principality of Antioch, damaging many of its castles. The following spring, while supervising the repair of his strongholds, Prince Roger heard rumors of a Turkish invasion. Since 1111, the Seljuk Sultan of Baghdad had directed a series of attacks on Antioch and the County of Edessa, which were both established in 1098 by Frankish crusading lords and their followers. In 1115, the Sultan sent Bursuq against Antioch. Jealous that their authority would be diminished if the Sultan's forces proved victorious, several Syrian Muslim princes allied themselves with the Latins.
Roger sent spies to observe his enemy's movements, gathered provisions for his army and put his principality into a state of defense. His 2,000-man army, which included both knights and infantry, assembled 20 km (12 mi) northeast of Antioch at Jisr al-Hadid, a bridge over the Orontes River. He then advanced to Atharib, about c. 60 km (37 mi) east of Antioch and c. 35 km (22 mi) west of Aleppo. Here Roger came to an agreement with his Muslim allies, Toghtekin of Damascus, Ilghazi of Mardin and Lulu of Aleppo. Subsequently, both Christians and Muslims were embarrassed by this pact.