The Iranian Counter offensive
Iran had created the SDC in 1980 to undertake what the Iranians
called Jange Tahmili, or the imposed war. Iran launched a counteroffensive
in January 1981. Both the volunteers and the regular armed forces
were eager to fight, the latter seeing an opportunity to regain
prestige lost because of their association with the shah's regime.
Iran's first major counterattack failed, however, for political
and military reasons. President Bani Sadr was engaged in a power
struggle with key religious figures and eager to gain political
support among the armed forces by direct involvement in military
operations. Lacking military expertise, he initiated a premature
attack by three regular armored regiments without the assistance
of the Pasdaran units. He also failed to take into account that
the ground near Susangerd, muddied by the preceding rainy season,
would make resupply difficult. As a result of his tactical decision
making, the Iranian forces were surrounded on three sides. In
a long exchange of fire, many Iranian armored vehicles were destroyed
or had to be abandoned because they were either stuck in the mud
or needed minor repairs. Fortunately for Iran, however, the Iraqi
forces failed to follow up with another attack.
After Bani Sadr was ousted as president and commander in chief,
Iran gained its first major victory, when, as a result of Khomeini's
initiative, the army and Pasdaran suppressed their rivalry and
cooperated to force Baghdad to lift its long siege of Abadan in
September 1981. Iranian forces also defeated Iraq in the Qasr-e
Shirin area in December 1981 and January 1982. The Iraqi armed
forces were hampered by their unwillingness to sustain a high
casualty rate and therefore refused to initiate a new offensive.
In March 1982, Tehran launched a major offensive called "Undeniable
Victory." Its forces broke the Iraqi line near Susangerd, separating
Iraqi units in northern and southern Khuzestan. Within a week,
they succeeded in destroying a large part of three Iraqi divisions.
This operation, another combined effort of the army, Pasdaran,
and Basij, was a turning point in the war because the strategic
initiative shifted from Iraq to Iran. In May 1982, Iranian units
finally regained Khorramshahr, but with high casualties. After
this victory, the Iranians maintained the pressure on the remaining
Iraqi forces, and President Saddam Husayn announced that the Iraqi
units would withdraw from Iranian territory.
Data as of December 1987