The bloody Iraqi-Iranian war in its fortieth anniversary


Iraqi soldiers

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Iraqi forces penetrated more than 100 km into Iranian territory at the beginning of the war

The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) was the longest war of the twentieth century and one of the bloodiest and most costly conflicts in economic and human terms.

The war began on September 22, 1980, when Iraqi forces invaded western Iran along the common border between the two countries. While the previous government of Iraq claimed that the war began on the fourth of September /September, when Iran bombed a number of border points.

The war ended with a ceasefire in 1988. Despite the withdrawal of the forces and their return to the sites where they were stationed before the war, the two parties did not sign a formal agreement in this regard until August 16, 1990.

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Accumulations of the past

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein wanted to reassert his country’s sovereignty over the two banks of the Shatt al-Arab, over which control was shared according to the Algiers Agreement between the two countries in 1975.

Saddam was also concerned about Ayatollah Khomeini’s attempts to export the Iranian revolution abroad by inciting the Shiite majority in Iraq.

Iraq took advantage of the state of chaos and weakness that Iran was still going through following the overthrow of the Shah’s rule about a year ago, as well as the international isolation that the new Iranian authority was experiencing, especially following the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran and the detention of dozens of hostages there.

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Getty Images

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Khomeini returned after 15 years in exile to lead the revolution that ended with the establishment of the Islamic Republic

The new authority in Iran had dissolved the armed forces and security services that had existed during the reign of the Shah; Which encouraged Saddam to wage war and surprise Iran.

The Iraqi army advanced into Iranian territory along a wide front in the Iranian province of Khuzestan. Iraqi forces captured the city of Khorramshahr, but failed to capture the important oil refining center in Abadan.

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Jacques Pavlovsky

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Saddam Hussein during his visit to the battle front

bog down

By December 1980, the Iraqi offensive had faltered about 80-120 kilometers inside Iran after encountering unexpected Iranian resistance.

Iran began counterattacks, using the Revolutionary Guards and its regular armed forces, forcing the Iraqis to retreat in 1981.

The Iranians first pushed the Iraqis across the Iranian Karun River and then recaptured the city of Khorramshahr in 1982.

Iraq withdrew its forces from all Iranian lands, which it had seized and began to seek to end the war.

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Iran, led by Khomeini, continued to reject the peace efforts and continued the war in an attempt to topple the Iraqi president.

Iraq’s defenses were strengthened as soon as its forces retreated and became in a position to defend its territory, the lines of battle were stabilized, and battles stagnated along the borders.

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Francois LOCHON

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Iran has pushed tens of thousands of young people to the battlefronts in human waves

Iran has repeatedly launched unsuccessful infantry attacks, using human waves made up partly of under-trained or well-armed recruits. The Iraqis confronted it with artillery and air power, which were outdone by Iraq over Iran, and sometimes by using chemical weapons.

The war entered a new phase when the two countries resorted to launching air and missile attacks against each other’s cities, in addition to military and oil installations.

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Archive photos: An Iranian soldier points his tank cannon at the Iraqi border.

International intervention

The two sides also exchanged attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf. Iran’s attacks on Kuwaiti oil tankers and other Gulf states have prompted the United States and many Western European countries to deploy warships in the Gulf to ensure the flow of oil to the rest of the world.

The two countries ‘oil export capacity fell sharply due to air strikes and pipeline closures, and the subsequent decline in their income and foreign exchange earnings halted the two countries’ economic development programs.

The Iraqi war effort was overtly funded by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Arab neighbors, and with the tacit support of the United States and the former Soviet Union, while the two main allies of Iran were Syria and Libya.

Iraq continued its appeals for an agreement to end the war and bring peace between the two countries in the mid-1980s.

His standing was severely damaged after evidence emerged of his use of chemical weapons against Iranian forces as well as against civilians Iraqi Kurds Those whom Baghdad accused of standing by Iran in the war.

One of these attacks on and around the Kurdish village of Halabja in March 1988 killed up to 5,000 civilians.

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Iranian soldiers on a motorbike pass by the corpses of Iraqi soldiers in the Faw area in the far south of Iraq in early February 1986 during the Iran-Iraq war.

In the mid-1980s, gridlock dominated the battle lines. In August 1988 Iran’s economic decline and recent Iraqi battlefield gains forced Iran to accept a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations.

The total number of war casualties on both sides is not known. But both countries were in a state of mobilization and most of the men of conscription age were under arms and the number of victims was enormous.

Estimates of the total number of war casualties range from one to two million people.

But the number of casualties on the Iranian side is greater than the Iraqi one, because the Iraqis continued to defend themselves during most of the war, while Iran was launching the attack after the attack, using huge human waves.

In economic terms, the two countries emerged from the war with huge losses that exceeded $ 400 billion in terms of material damage, while the direct cost of the war reached about $ 230 billion.

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