The War of Attrition
The "war of attrition" began after the Iranian high command passed
from regular military leaders to clergy in mid-1982. Although
Basra was within range of Iranian artillery, the clergy used "human-wave"
attacks by the Pasdaran and Basij against the city's defenses,
apparently waiting for a coup to topple Saddam Husayn. All such
assaults faced Iraqi artillery fire and received heavy casualties.
Throughout 1983 both sides demonstrated their ability to absorb
and to inflict severe losses. Iraq, in particular, proved adroit
at constructing defensive strong points and flooding lowland areas
to stymie the Iranian thrusts, hampering the advance of mechanized
units. Both sides also experienced difficulties in effectively
utilizing their armor. Rather than maneuver their armor, they
tended to dig in tanks and use them as artillery pieces. Furthermore,
both sides failed to master tank gunsights and fire controls,
making themselves vulnerable to antitank weapons.
Data as of December 1987