Road Hunter in the Land between the Rivers: A Soldiers Story of the Iraq War
In March , the Iranians tried to follow up their success by attempting to take Umm Qasr , which would have completely severed Iraq from the Gulf and placed Iranian troops on the border with Kuwait. The battle bogged down into a World War I-style stalemate in the marshes of the peninsula. Immediately after the Iranian capture of al-Faw, Saddam declared a new offensive against Iran, designed to drive deep into the state.
On 15—19 May, Iraqi Army's Second Corps, supported by helicopter gunships, attacked and captured the city. Saddam then offered the Iranians to exchange Mehran for al-Faw. Iraq then continued the attack, attempting to push deeper into Iran. The Iranians built up their forces on the heights surrounding Mehran. On 30 June, using mountain warfare tactics they launched their attack, recapturing the city by 3 July.
Iraqi losses were heavy enough to allow the Iranians to also capture territory inside Iraq,  and depleted the Iraqi military enough to prevent them from launching a major offensive for the next two years. Through the eyes of international observers, Iran was prevailing in the war by the end of Iraq responded by launching another "war of the cities".
In one attack, Tehran's main oil refinery was hit, and in another instance, Iraq damaged Iran's Assadabad satellite dish, disrupting Iranian overseas telephone and telex service for almost two weeks. Iraq continued to attack oil tankers via air. Iraq continued to attack Kharg Island and the oil tankers and facilities as well. Iran created a tanker shuttle service of 20 tankers to move oil from Kharg to Larak Island, escorted by Iranian fighter jets. Once moved to Larak, the oil would be moved to oceangoing tankers usually neutral.
By now they almost always used the armed speedboats of the IRGC navy, and attacked many tankers. Iraq got permission from the Saudi government to use its airspace to attack Larak Island, although due to the distance attacks were less frequent there. The escalating tanker war in the Gulf became an ever-increasing concern to foreign powers, especially the United States. In April , Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa declaring that the war must be won by March The Iranians increased recruitment efforts, obtaining , volunteers.
Faced with their recent defeats in al-Faw and Mehran, Iraq appeared to be losing the war. Iraq's generals, angered by Saddam's interference, threatened a full-scale mutiny against the Ba'ath Party unless they were allowed to conduct operations freely. In one of the few times during his career, Saddam gave in to the demands of his generals. However, the defeat at al-Faw led Saddam to declare the war to be Al-Defa al-Mutaharakha The Dynamic Defense ,  and announcing that all civilians had to take part in the war effort.
The universities were closed and all of the male students were drafted into the military. Civilians were instructed to clear marshlands to prevent Iranian amphibious infiltrations and to help build fixed defenses. The government tried to integrate the Shias into the war effort by recruiting many as part of the Ba'ath Party. Scenes of Saddam praying and making pilgrimages to shrines became common on state-run television. While Iraqi morale had been low throughout the war, the attack on al-Faw raised patriotic fervor, as the Iraqis feared invasion.
At the same time, Saddam ordered the genocidal al-Anfal Campaign in an attempt to crush the Kurdish resistance, who were now allied with Iran. The result was the deaths of several hundred thousand Iraqi Kurds, and the destruction of villages, towns, and cities. Iraq began to try to perfect its maneuver tactics. Prior to , the conscription -based Iraqi regular army and the volunteer-based Iraqi Popular Army conducted the bulk of the operations in the war, to little effect.
The Republican Guard, formerly an elite praetorian guard , was expanded as a volunteer army and filled with Iraq's best generals. However, due to Saddam's paranoia, the former duties of the Republican Guard were transferred to a new unit, the Special Republican Guard. Meanwhile, as the Iraqis were planning their strike, the Iranians continued to attack. The Iraqis had elaborately fortified Basra with 5 defensive rings, exploiting natural waterways such as the Shatt-al-Arab and artificial ones, such as Fish Lake and the Jasim River, along with earth barriers.
Fish Lake was a massive lake filled with mines, underwater barbed wire, electrodes and sensors. Behind each waterway and defensive line was radar-guided artillery, ground attack aircraft and helicopters; all capable of firing poison gas or conventional munitions. The Iranian strategy was to penetrate the Iraqi defences and encircle Basra, cutting off the city as well as the Al-Faw peninsula from the rest of Iraq.
When the main Iranian attack, Operation Karbala 5 began, many Iraqi troops were on leave. This battle, known for its extensive casualties and ferocious conditions, was the biggest battle of the war and proved to be the beginning of the end of the Iran—Iraq War. At the same time as Operation Karbala 5, Iran also launched Operation Karbala-6 against the Iraqis in Qasr-e Shirin in central Iran to prevent the Iraqis from rapidly transferring units down to defend against the Karbala-5 attack.
The attack was carried out by Basij infantry and the Revolutionary Guard's 31st Ashura and the Army's 77th Khorasan armored divisions. The Basij attacked the Iraqi lines, forcing the Iraqi infantry to retreat. An Iraqi armored counter-attack surrounded the Basij in a pincer movement, but the Iranian tank divisions attacked, breaking the encirclement. The Iranian attack was finally stopped by mass Iraqi chemical weapons attacks. Operation Karbala-5 was a severe blow to Iran's military and morale. By , Iran had become self-sufficient in many areas, such as anti-tank TOW missiles, Scud ballistic missiles Shahab-1 , Silkworm anti-ship missiles, Oghab tactical rockets, and producing spare parts for their weaponry.
Iran had also improved its air defenses with smuggled surface to air missiles. While it was not obvious to foreign observers, the Iranian public had become increasingly war-weary and disillusioned with the fighting, and relatively few volunteers joined the fight in — Because the Iranian war effort relied on popular mobilization, their military strength actually declined, and Iran was unable to launch any major offensives after Karbala As a result, for the first time since , the momentum of the fighting shifted towards the regular army.
Since the regular army was conscription based, it made the war even less popular. Many Iranians began to try to escape the conflict. As early as May , anti-war demonstrations took place in 74 cities throughout Iran, which were crushed by the regime, resulting in some protesters being shot and killed. Other people including the more nationalistic and religious as well as the clergy, and the Revolutionary Guards, wished to continue the war.
The leadership acknowledged that the war was a stalemate, and began to plan accordingly. On the Iranian home front, the combination of sanctions, declining oil prices, and Iraqi attacks on Iranian oil facilities and shipping took a heavy toll on the economy. While the attacks themselves were not as destructive as some analysts believed, the U. By the end of , Iraq possessed 5, tanks outnumbering the Iranians six to one and fighter aircraft outnumbering the Iranians ten to one.
They replenished their manpower by integrating volunteers from other Arab countries into their army. Iraq also became self-sufficient in chemical weapons and some conventional ones and received much equipment from abroad. While the southern and central fronts were at a stalemate, Iran began to focus on carrying out offensives in northern Iraq with the help of the Peshmerga Kurdish insurgents.
The Iranians used a combination of semi-guerrilla and infiltration tactics in the Kurdish mountains with the Peshmerga. During Operation Karbala-9 in early April, Iran captured territory near Suleimaniya, provoking a severe poison gas counter-attack. During Operation Karbala , Iran attacked near the same area, capturing more territory. Despite that, Iran managed to restore some damaged planes into service. The Iranian Air Force, despite its once sophisticated equipment, lacked enough equipment and personnel to sustain the war of attrition that had arisen, and was unable to lead an outright onslaught against Iraq.
The Soviets began delivering more advanced aircraft and weapons to Iraq, while the French improved training for flying crews and technical personnel and continually introduced new methods for countering Iranian weapons and tactics. The main Iraqi air effort had shifted to the destruction of Iranian war-fighting capability primarily Persian Gulf oil fields, tankers, and Kharg Island and starting late , the Iraqi Air Force moved on a comprehensive campaign against the Iranian economic infrastructure.
Navy ships tracked and reported movements of Iranian shipping and defences. The attacks on oil tankers continued. Both Iran and Iraq carried frequent attacks during the first four months of the year. Iran was effectively waging a naval guerilla war with its IRGC navy speedboats, while Iraq attacked with its aircraft. In , Kuwait asked to reflag its tankers to the U. They did so in March, and the U. Navy began Operation Earnest Will to escort the tankers.
Iran also deployed Silkworm missiles to attack some ships, but only a few were actually fired. Both the United States and Iran jockeyed for influence in the Gulf. To discourage the United States from escorting tankers, Iran secretly mined some areas in the Gulf. The United States began to escort the reflagged tankers, but one of them was damaged by a mine while under escort.
While being a public-relations victory for Iran, the United States increased its reflagging efforts. While Iran mined the Persian Gulf, their speedboat attacks were reduced, primarily attacking unflagged tankers shipping in the area. On 8 October, the U. Navy destroyed four Iranian speedboats, and in response to Iranian Silkworm missile attacks on Kuwaiti oil tankers, launched Operation Nimble Archer , destroying two Iranian oil rigs in the Persian Gulf.
Iran managed to shoot down 30 Iraqi fighters with fighter jets, anti-aircraft guns, and missiles, allowing the Iranian air force to survive to the end of the war. On 28 June, Iraqi fighter bombers attacked the Iranian town of Sardasht near the border, using chemical mustard gas bombs.
List of coalition military operations of the Iraq War
While many towns and cities had been bombed before, and troops attacked with gas, this was the first time that the Iraqis had attacked a civilian area with poison gas. While little known outside of Iran unlike the later Halabja chemical attack , the Sardasht bombing and future similar attacks had a tremendous effect on the Iranian people's psyche. By , with massive equipment imports and reduced Iranian volunteers, Iraq was ready to launch major offensives against Iran. With their allies tankers protected by U.
These attacks began to have a major toll on the Iranian economy, morale, and caused many casualties as well. In March , the Iranians carried out Operation Dawn 10 , Operation Beit ol-Moqaddas 2 , and Operation Zafar 7 in Iraqi Kurdistan with the aim of capturing the Darbandikhan Dam and the power plant at Lake Dukan , which supplied Iraq with much of its electricity and water, as well as the city of Suleimaniya.
At one point, the United States claimed that Iran had launched the attack and then tried to blame Iraq for it. Key areas, such as supply lines, command posts, and ammunition depots, were hit by a storm of mustard gas and nerve gas , as well as by conventional explosives. Helicopters landed Iraqi commandos behind Iranian lines while the main Iraqi force attacked in a frontal assault. Within 48 hours, all of the Iranian forces had been killed or cleared from the al-Faw Peninsula.
The Iraqis had planned the offensive well. Prior to the attack the Iraqi soldiers gave themselves poison gas antidotes to shield themselves from the effect of the saturation of gas. The heavy and well executed use of chemical weapons was the decisive factor in the Iraqi victory. To the shock of the Iranians, rather than breaking off the offensive, the Iraqis kept up their drive, and a new force attacked the Iranian positions around Basra. Using artillery, they would saturate the Iranian front line with rapidly dispersing cyanide and nerve gas, while longer-lasting mustard gas was launched via fighter-bombers and rockets against the Iranian rear, creating a "chemical wall" that blocked reinforcement.
The same day as Iraq's attack on al-Faw peninsula, the United States Navy launched Operation Praying Mantis in retaliation against Iran for damaging a warship with a mine. Iran lost oil platforms , destroyers , and frigates in this battle, which ended only when President Reagan decided that the Iranian navy had been put down enough. In spite of this, the Revolutionary Guard Navy continued their speedboat attacks against oil tankers.
Faced with such losses, Khomeini appointed the cleric Hashemi Rafsanjani as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces , though he had in actuality occupied that position for months.
The Land Between Two Rivers - Truthdig
With aircraft sorties and heavy use of nerve gas, they crushed the Iranian forces in the area, killing 3, and nearly destroying a Revolutionary Guard division. On 25 May , Iraq launched the first of five Tawakalna ala Allah Trust in God Operations ,  consisting of one of the largest artillery barrages in history, coupled with chemical weapons.
The marshes had been dried by drought, allowing the Iraqis to use tanks to bypass Iranian field fortifications, expelling the Iranians from the border town of Shalamcheh after less than 10 hours of combat. Iraqi commandos used amphibious craft to block the Iranian rear,  then used hundreds of tanks with massed conventional and chemical artillery barrages to recapture the island after 8 hours of combat. These losses included more than of the 1, remaining Iranian tanks, over armored vehicles, 45 self-propelled artillery, towed artillery pieces, and antiaircraft guns.
These figures only included what Iraq could actually put to use; total amount of captured materiel was higher. Since March, the Iraqis claimed to captured 1, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, heavy artillery pieces, 6, mortars, 5, recoilless rifles and light guns, 8, man-portable rocket launchers, 60, rifles, pistols, trucks, and 1, light vehicles. Stephen Pelletier, a Journalist, Middle East expert, and Author, noted that "Tawakal ala Allah … resulted in the absolute destruction of Iran's military machine.
During the battles, the Iranians put up little resistance to the Iraqi offensives, having been worn out by nearly eight years of war. However, this came too late, and due to the capture of of their operable tanks and the destruction of hundreds more, Iran was believed to have fewer than remaining operable tanks on the southern front, faced against thousands of Iraqi ones.
Saddam sent a warning to Khomeini in mid, threatening to launch a new and powerful full-scale invasion and attack Iranian cities with weapons of mass destruction. Shortly afterwards, Iraqi aircraft bombed the Iranian town of Oshnavieh with poison gas, immediately killing and wounding over 2, civilians. The fear of an all out chemical attack against Iran's largely unprotected civilian population weighed heavily on the Iranian leadership, and they realized that the international community had no intention of restraining Iraq.
Meanwhile, Iraqi conventional bombs and missiles continuously hit towns and cities, as well as destroyed vital civilian and military infrastructure, and the death toll increased. Iran did reply with missile and air attacks as well, but not enough to deter the Iraqis from attacking. Under the threat of a new and even more powerful invasion, Commander-in-Chief Rafsanjani ordered the Iranians to retreat from Haj Omran, Kurdistan on 14 July.
Dozens of villages, such as Sardasht , and some larger towns, such as Marivan , Baneh and Saqqez ,  were once again attacked with poison gas, resulting in even heavier civilian casualties. The lack of international sympathy disturbed the Iranian leadership, and they came to the conclusion that the United States was on the verge of waging a full-scale war against them, and that Iraq was on the verge of unleashing its entire chemical arsenal upon their cities.
At this point, elements of the Iranian leadership, led by Rafsanjani who had initially pushed for the extension of the war , persuaded Khomeini to accept the ceasefire. Happy are those who have departed through martyrdom. Happy are those who have lost their lives in this convoy of light. Unhappy am I that I still survive and have drunk the poisoned chalice The news of the end of the war was greeted with celebration in Baghdad, with people dancing in the streets; in Tehran, however, the end of the war was greeted with a somber mood.
Both Iran and Iraq had accepted Resolution but despite the ceasefire, after seeing Iraqi victories in the previous months, Mujahadeen-e-Khalq MEK decided to launch an attack of its own and wished to advance all the way to Teheran. Saddam and the Iraqi high command decided on a two pronged offensive across the border into central Iran and Iranian Kurdistan. In the north, Iraq also launched an attack into Iraqi Kurdistan, which was blunted by the Iranians. The Iranians had withdrawn their remaining soldiers to Khuzestan in fear of a new Iraqi invasion attempt, allowing the Mujahedeen to advance rapidly towards Kermanshah , seizing Qasr-e Shirin , Sarpol-e Zahab , Kerend-e Gharb , and Islamabad-e-Gharb.
Iranian paratroopers landed behind the MEK lines while the Iranian Air Force and helicopters launched an air attack, destroying much of the enemy columns. The last notable combat actions of the war took place on 3 August , in the Persian Gulf when the Iranian navy fired on a freighter and Iraq launched chemical attacks on Iranian civilians, killing an unknown number of them and wounding 2, Resolution became effective on 8 August , ending all combat operations between the two countries.
The majority of Western analysts believe that the war had no winners while some believed that Iraq emerged as the victor of the war, based on Iraq's overwhelming successes between April and July While the war was now over, Iraq spent the rest of August and early September clearing the Kurdish resistance. Using 60, troops along with helicopter gunships, chemical weapons poison gas , and mass executions, Iraq hit 15 villages, killing rebels and civilians, and forced tens of thousands of Kurds to relocate to settlements.
By 3 September , the anti-Kurd campaign ended, and all resistance had been crushed. At the war's conclusion, it took several weeks for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran to evacuate Iraqi territory to honor pre-war international borders set by the Algiers Agreement. The Security Council did not identify Iraq as the aggressor of the war until 11 December , some 12 years after Iraq invaded Iran and 16 months following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The Iran—Iraq War was the deadliest conventional war ever fought between regular armies of developing countries.
While revolutionary Iran had been bloodied, Iraq was left with a large military and was a regional power , albeit with severe debt, financial problems, and labor shortages. According to Iranian government sources, the war cost Iran an estimated ,—, killed,     or up to , according to the conservative Western estimates. Both Iraq and Iran manipulated loss figures to suit their purposes. At the same time, Western analysts accepted improbable estimates.
With the ceasefire in place, and UN peacekeepers monitoring the border, Iran and Iraq sent their representatives to Geneva , Switzerland , to negotiate a peace agreement on the terms of the ceasefire. However, peace talks stalled. Foreign powers continued to support Iraq, which wanted to gain at the negotiating table what they failed to achieve on the battlefield, and Iran was portrayed as the one not wanting peace.
They also continued to carry out a naval blockade of Iraq, although its effects were mitigated by Iraqi use of ports in friendly neighbouring Arab countries. Iran also began to improve relations with many of the states that opposed it during the war. Because of Iranian actions, by , Saddam had become more conciliatory, and in a letter to the now President Rafsanjani, he became more open to the idea of a peace agreement, although he still insisted on full sovereignty over the Shatt al-Arab.
Rafsanjani reversed Iran's self-imposed ban on chemical weapons, and ordered the manufacture and stockpile of them Iran destroyed them in after ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention. Iraq had lost its support from the West, and its position in Iran was increasingly untenable. A peace agreement was signed finalizing the terms of the UN resolution, diplomatic relations were restored, and by late early , the Iraqi military withdrew. The UN peacekeepers withdrew from the border shortly afterward.
Most of the prisoners of war were released in , although some remained as late as Most historians and analysts consider the war to be a stalemate. Certain analysts believe that Iraq won, on the basis of the successes of their offensives which thwarted Iran's major territorial ambitions in Iraq and persuaded Iran to accept the ceasefire.
That [Iraq's] explanations do not appear sufficient or acceptable to the international community is a fact Even if before the outbreak of the conflict there had been some encroachment by Iran on Iraqi territory, such encroachment did not justify Iraq's aggression against Iran—which was followed by Iraq's continuous occupation of Iranian territory during the conflict—in violation of the prohibition of the use of force, which is regarded as one of the rules of jus cogens On one occasion I had to note with deep regret the experts' conclusion that "chemical weapons ha[d] been used against Iranian civilians in an area adjacent to an urban center lacking any protection against that kind of attack.
He also stated that had the UN accepted this fact earlier, the war would have almost certainly not lasted as long as it did. Iran, encouraged by the announcement, sought reparations from Iraq, but never received any. Throughout the s and early s, Iran and Iraq relations remained balanced between a cold war and a cold peace.
Despite renewed and somewhat thawed relations, both sides continued to have low level conflicts. Iraq continued to host and support the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, which carried out multiple attacks throughout Iran up until the invasion of Iraq including the assassination of Iranian general Ali Sayyad Shirazi in , cross border raids, and mortar attacks. Iran carried out several airstrikes and missile attacks against Mujahedeen targets inside of Iraq the largest taking place in , when Iran fired 56 Scud missiles at Mujahedeen targets.
After the fall of Saddam in , Hamdani claimed that Iranian agents infiltrated and created numerous militias in Iraq and built an intelligence system operating within the country. In , the new government of Iraq apologised to Iran for starting the war. The war also helped to create a forerunner for the Coalition of the Gulf War , when the Gulf Arab states banded together early in the war to form the Gulf Cooperation Council to help Iraq fight Iran.
The unsustainable economic situation compelled the new Iraqi government to request that a considerable portion of debt incurred during the Iran—Iraq war be written off. The war had its impact on medical science: Iraq's military was accustomed to fighting the slow moving Iranian infantry formations with artillery and static defenses, while using mostly unsophisticated tanks to gun down and shell the infantry and overwhelm the smaller Iranian tank force; in addition to being dependent on weapons of mass destruction to help secure victories. Therefore, they were rapidly overwhelmed by the high-tech, quick-maneuvering U.
At first, Saddam attempted to ensure that the Iraqi population suffered from the war as little as possible. There was rationing, but civilian projects begun before the war continued. After the Iranian victories of the spring of and the Syrian closure of Iraq's main pipeline, Saddam did a volte-face on his policy towards the home front: Mass demonstrations of loyalty towards Saddam became more common. In the summer of , Saddam began a campaign of terror. More than Iraqi Army officers were executed for their failures on the battlefield. To secure the loyalty of the Shia population, Saddam allowed more Shias into the Ba'ath Party and the government, and improved Shia living standards, which had been lower than those of the Iraqi Sunnis.
The most infamous event was the massacre of civilians of the Shia town of Dujail. Despite the costs of the war, the Iraqi regime made generous contributions to Shia waqf religious endowments as part of the price of buying Iraqi Shia support. Israeli-British historian, Ephraim Karsh, argues that the Iranian government saw the outbreak of war as chance to strengthen its position and consolidate the Islamic revolution, noting that government propaganda presented it domestically as a glorious jihad and a test of Iranian national character.
Iranian workers had a day's pay deducted from their pay cheques every month to help finance the war, and mass campaigns were launched to encourage the public to donate food, money, and blood. According to former Iraqi general Ra'ad al-Hamdani , the Iraqis believed that in addition to the Arab revolts, the Revolutionary Guards would be drawn out of Tehran, leading to a counter-revolution in Iran that would cause Khomeini's government to collapse and thus ensure Iraqi victory. In June , street battles broke out between the Revolutionary Guard and the left-wing Mujaheddin e-Khalq MEK , continuing for several days and killing hundreds on both sides.
In addition to the open civil conflict with the MEK, the Iranian government was faced with Iraqi-supported rebellions in Iranian Kurdistan, which were gradually put down through a campaign of systematic repression. The war furthered the decline of the Iranian economy that had begun with the revolution in — As a result, Iran funded the war by the income from oil exports after cash had run out.
In January , former prime minister and anti-war Islamic Liberation Movement co-founder Mehdi Bazargan criticised the war in a telegram to the United Nations, calling it un-Islamic and illegitimate and arguing that Khomeini should have accepted Saddam's truce offer in instead of attempting to overthrow the Ba'ath. Is that not an admission of failure on your part? By , Iranian morale had begun to crumble, reflected in the failure of government campaigns to recruit "martyrs" for the front. Not all saw the war in negative terms.
The Islamic Revolution of Iran was strengthened and radicalised. Iran's regular Army had been purged after the Revolution , with most high-ranking officers either having deserted fled the country or been executed. At the beginning of the war, Iraq held a clear advantage in armour, while both nations were roughly equal in terms of artillery. The gap only widened as the war went on. Iran started with a stronger air force, but over time, the balance of power reversed in Iraq's favour as Iraq was constantly expanding its military, while Iran was under arms sanctions.
Estimates for and were: The conflict has been compared to World War I : The world powers United States and the Soviet Union , together with many Western and Arab countries, provided military, intelligence, economic, and political support for Iraq. During the war, Iraq was regarded by the West and the Soviet Union as a counterbalance to post-revolutionary Iran. During the early years of the war, the United States lacked meaningful relations with either Iran or Iraq, the former due to the Iranian Revolution and the Iran hostage crisis and the latter because of Iraq's alliance with the Soviet Union and hostility towards Israel.
Following Iran's success of repelling the Iraqi invasion and Khomeini's refusal to end the war in , the United States made an outreach to Iraq, beginning with the restoration of diplomatic relations in The United States wished to both keep Iran away from Soviet influence and protect other Gulf states from any threat of Iranian expansion. As a result, it began to provide limited support to Iraq. The focus of Iranian pressure at this moment is Iraq. There are few governments in the world less deserving of our support and less capable of using it. Had Iraq won the war, the fear in the Gulf and the threat to our interest would be scarcely less than it is today.
A rapprochement with Iran, of course, must await at a minimum Iran's abandonment of hegemonic aspirations in the Gulf. Richard Murphy , Assistant Secretary of State during the war, testified to Congress in that the Reagan administration believed a victory for either Iran or Iraq was "neither militarily feasible nor strategically desirable.
Support to Iraq was given via technological aid, intelligence, the sale of chemical and biological warfare technology and military equipment, and satellite intelligence. While there was direct combat between Iran and the United States, it is not universally agreed that the fighting between the United States and Iran was specifically to benefit Iraq, or for separate issues between the U.
American official ambiguity towards which side to support was summed up by Henry Kissinger when he remarked, "It's a pity they both can't lose. More than 30 countries provided support to Iraq, Iran, or both; most of the aid went to Iraq. Iran had a complex clandestine procurement network to obtain munitions and critical materials. Iraq had an even larger clandestine purchasing network, involving 10—12 allied countries, to maintain ambiguity over their arms purchases and to circumvent "official restrictions". Arab mercenaries and volunteers from Egypt  and Jordan formed the Yarmouk Brigade  and participated in the war alongside Iraqis.
The United States pursued policies in favour of Iraq by reopening diplomatic channels, lifting restrictions on the export of dual-use technology , overseeing the transfer of third-party military hardware, and providing operational intelligence on the battlefield. France, which from the s had been one of Iraq's closest allies, was a major supplier of military hardware. Iraq also made extensive use of front companies , middlemen, secret ownership of all or part of companies all over the world, forged end-user certificates , and other methods to hide what it was acquiring.
Some transactions may have involved people, shipping, and manufacturing in as many as 10 countries. Iraq bought at least one British company with operations in the United Kingdom and the United States, and had a complex relationship with France and the Soviet Union, its major suppliers of actual weapons.
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The United Nations Security Council initially called for a cease-fire after a week of fighting while Iraq was occupying Iranian territory, and renewed the call on later occasions. In August , when FBI agents raided the Atlanta branch of BNL, branch manager Christopher Drogoul was charged with making unauthorised, clandestine, and illegal loans to Iraq—some of which, according to his indictment, were used to purchase arms and weapons technology. While the United States directly fought Iran, citing freedom of navigation as a major casus belli , it also indirectly supplied some weapons to Iran as part of a complex and illegal programme that became known as the Iran—Contra affair.
These secret sales were partly to help secure the release of hostages held in Lebanon , and partly to make money to help the Contras rebel group in Nicaragua. This arms-for-hostages agreement turned into a major scandal. North Korea was a major arms supplier to Iran , often acting as a third party in arms deals between Iran and the Communist bloc. Support included domestically manufactured arms and Eastern-Bloc weapons, for which the major powers wanted deniability. Among the other arms suppliers and supporters of Iran's Islamic Revolution, the major ones where Libya, Syria, and China.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Institute, China was the largest foreign arms supplier to Iran between and Syria and Libya, breaking Arab solidarity, supported Iran with arms, rhetoric and diplomacy. Besides the United States and the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia also sold weapons to both countries for the entire duration of the conflict. Likewise, Portugal helped both countries ; : Weapons sold to Iraq included 4x4 vehicles, BO helicopters, explosives, and ammunition.
A research party later discovered that an unexploded chemical Iraqi warhead in Iran was manufactured in Spain. Although neither side acquired any weapons from Turkey, both sides enjoyed Turkish civilian trade during the conflict, although the Turkish government remained neutral and refused to support the U. Trading with both countries helped Turkey to offset its ongoing economic crisis, though the benefits decreased as the war neared its end and accordingly disappeared entirely with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the resulting Iraq sanctions Turkey imposed in response.
A key element of U. The Iran—Iraq war had been going on for three years and there were significant casualties on both sides, reading hundreds of thousands. Within the Reagan National Security Council concern was growing that the war could spread beyond the boundaries of the two belligerents. It was determined that there was a high likelihood that the conflict would spread into Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, but that the United States had little capability to defend the region.
Furthermore, it was determined that a prolonged war in the region would induce much higher oil prices and threaten the fragile world recovery which was just beginning to gain momentum. The full declassified presentation can be seen here. Whether or not Iraqi leadership authorised the attack is still unknown.
Initial claims by the Iraqi government that Stark was inside the Iran—Iraq War zone were shown to be false, and the motives and orders of the pilot remain unanswered. Though American officials claimed that the pilot who attacked Stark had been executed, an ex-Iraqi Air Force commander since stated he had not been punished, and was still alive at the time.
It criticised Iran's mining of international waters, and sponsored UN Security Council Resolution , which passed unanimously on 20 July, under which the U. Roberts was badly damaged by an Iranian mine, and 10 sailors were wounded. Navy's largest engagement of surface warships since World War II.
Two Iranian oil platforms were damaged, and five Iranian warships and gunboats were sunk. An American helicopter also crashed. United States of America , which was eventually dismissed in In the course of escorts by the U. The American government claimed that Vincennes was in international waters at the time which was later proven to be untrue , that the Airbus A had been mistaken for an Iranian F Tomcat , and that Vincennes feared that she was under attack.
Crowe later admitted on Nightline that Vincennes was in Iranian territorial waters when it launched the missiles. At the time of the attack, Admiral Crowe claimed that the Iranian plane did not identify itself and sent no response to warning signals he had sent. In , the United States expressed their regret for the event and the civilian deaths it caused.
In a declassified report, the CIA estimated that Iran had suffered more than 50, casualties from Iraq's use of several chemical weapons,  though current estimates are more than , as the long-term effects continue to cause casualties. According to a article in the Star-Ledger , 20, Iranian soldiers were killed on the spot by nerve gas. As of , 5, of the 80, survivors continue to seek regular medical treatment, while 1, are hospital inpatients. According to Iraqi documents, assistance in developing chemical weapons was obtained from firms in many countries, including the United States, West Germany, the Netherlands , the United Kingdom, and France.
A report stated that Dutch, Australian, Italian, French and both West and East German companies were involved in the export of raw materials to Iraqi chemical weapons factories. On 21 March , the United Nations Security Council made a declaration stating that "members are profoundly concerned by the unanimous conclusion of the specialists that chemical weapons on many occasions have been used by Iraqi forces against Iranian troops, and the members of the Council strongly condemn this continued use of chemical weapons in clear violation of the Geneva Protocol of , which prohibits the use in war of chemical weapons.
According to Walter Lang , senior defense intelligence officer at the U. Defense Intelligence Agency , "the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern" to Reagan and his aides, because they "were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose". He claimed that the Defense Intelligence Agency "would have never accepted the use of chemical weapons against civilians, but the use against military objectives was seen as inevitable in the Iraqi struggle for survival".
The United States accused Iran of using chemical weapons as well, : Joost Hiltermann , the principal researcher for Human Rights Watch between and , conducted a two-year study that included a field investigation in Iraq, and obtained Iraqi government documents in the process. According to Hiltermann, the literature on the Iran—Iraq War reflects allegations of chemical weapons used by Iran, but they are "marred by a lack of specificity as to time and place, and the failure to provide any sort of evidence".
Analysts Gary Sick and Lawrence Potter have called the allegations against Iran "mere assertions" and stated, "No persuasive evidence of the claim that Iran was the primary culprit [of using chemical weapons] was ever presented. At his trial in December , Saddam said he would take responsibility "with honour" for any attacks on Iran using conventional or chemical weapons during the war, but that he took issue with the charges that he ordered attacks on Iraqis.
At the time of the conflict, the UN Security Council issued statements that "chemical weapons had been used in the war". UN statements never clarified that only Iraq was using chemical weapons, and according to retrospective authors "the international community remained silent as Iraq used weapons of mass destruction against Iranian[s] as well as Iraqi Kurds.
Iran's attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor in September was the first attack on a nuclear reactor and one of only six military attacks on nuclear facilities in history. It was also the first instance of a pre-emptive attack on a nuclear reactor to forestall the development of a nuclear weapon , though it did not achieve its objective, as France repaired the reactor after the attack.
The decommissioning of Osirak has been cited as causing a substantial delay to Iraqi acquisition of nuclear weapons. The Iran—Iraq War was the first and only conflict in the history of warfare in which both forces used ballistic missiles against each other. One Mi went down immediately, the other was badly damaged and crashed before reaching base. The final claim tally was 10 SeaCobras and 6 Mis destroyed. The relatively small numbers and the inevitable disputes over actual kill numbers makes it unclear if one gunship had a real technical superiority over the other.
In October , Iraqi aircraft began to attack civilian passenger trains and aircraft on Iranian soil, including an Iran Air Boeing unloading passengers at Shiraz International Airport.
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Eight Iranian cities came under attack from Iraqi missiles. The bombings killed 65 children in an elementary school in Borujerd. The Iranians responded with Scud missile attacks on Baghdad and struck a primary school there. These events became known as the " War of the Cities ". Despite the war, Iran and Iraq maintained diplomatic relations and embassies in each other's countries until mid Iran's government used human waves to attack enemy troops and even in some cases to clear minefields. Children volunteered as well.
Some reports mistakenly have the Basijis marching into battle while marking their expected entry to heaven by wearing " plastic keys to paradise " around their necks, although other analysts regard this story as a hoax involving a misinterpretation of the carrying of a prayer book called "The Keys to Paradise" Mafatih al-Janan by Sheikh Abbas Qumi given to all volunteers.
During the Fateh offensive in February , I toured the southwest front on the Iranian side and saw scores of boys, aged anywhere from nine to sixteen, who said with staggering and seemingly genuine enthusiasm that they had volunteered to become martyrs. Regular army troops, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards and mullahs all lauded these youths, known as baseeji [Basij], for having played the most dangerous role in breaking through Iraqi lines. They had led the way, running over fields of mines to clear the ground for the Iranian ground assault.
Wearing white headbands to signify the embracing of death, and shouting " Shaheed , shaheed" Martyr, martyr they literally blew their way into heaven. Their numbers were never disclosed.
But a walk through the residential suburbs of Iranian cities provided a clue. Window after window, block after block, displayed black-bordered photographs of teenage or preteen youths. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. The readable prose size is kilobytes. Please consider splitting content into sub-articles, condensing it, or adding or removing subheadings.
Siege of Abadan and Operation Morvarid. Operation Before the Dawn. War of the Cities. First Battle of al-Faw and Operation Dawn 8. Second Battle of al-Faw. Tawakalna ala Allah Operations. Order of battle during the Iran—Iraq War. International aid to combatants in the Iran—Iraq War. Iran Air Flight Iraqi chemical attacks against Iran. Halabja chemical attack , Iraqi chemical weapons programme , and Second Battle of al-Faw.
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Archived from the original PDF on 22 September Retrieved 2 August Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East. In the name of God: Bien Hoa, Vietnam; Pleiku, Vietnam; also: Japan; Germany; United States Theme: Khe Sanh, Vietnam Theme: England; France; Luxembourg; Belgium; Germany; also: France; Germany; European Theater Theme: Carl Les Fordahl War: Art of War Theme: John Curtis Foster, Jr.
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Max Wayne Lilley War: Saudi Arabia; Kuwait; Iraq; also: Camp Liberty, Iraq Theme: Christopher Ryan Linton War: Persian Gulf War Era, Branch: Georgia; Kuwait; Iraq Theme: Harold Augustus Lippard War: Earl William Long War: Candy Sweet Lovett War: Marine Corps; Army Service Location: United States; European Theater; also: United States; Southeast Asia Theme: James Joseph Maddix, Jr. Ann Ellicott Madeira War: Lille Margaret Magette War: John Philip Manger War: John William Manix War: Eric James March War: Auburn, California; Kuwait; Iraq Theme: Brian Cody Markle War: Long Binh, Vietnam; also: Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Theme: Charles Kittle Marlatt War: Walter Joseph Marm, Jr.
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Judy Reed Russell War: Vietnam; San Antonio, Texas Theme: Reese Melvin Russell War: Camp Lee, Virginia; France Theme: Henry James Ryskamp War: Camp Eagle, South Vietnam Theme: George Taro Sakato War: Tedosio Louis Samora War: North Carolina; Saigon, Vietnam Theme: Heather Lori Sandler War: War on Terrorism, Branch: Pacific Theater; Hawaii; Japan Theme: Ding Tuong Province, Vietnam Theme: James Andrew Sawvell War: Julia Rae Schembre War: Gregory James Schulte War: Tikrit, Iraq; Kuwait Theme: James Allen Scott War: Raymond Aleck Seay War: Lewis Clayton Shaw, Jr.
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