Iraqi Retreats, 1982-84
In March 1982, Tehran launched its Operation Undeniable Victory,
which marked a major turning point, as Iran penetrated Iraq's
"impenetrable" lines, split Iraq's forces, and forced the Iraqis
to retreat. In late June 1982, Baghdad stated its willingness
to negotiate a settlement of the war and to withdraw its forces
from Iran. Iran refused, and in July 1982 Iran launched Operation
Ramadan on Iraqi territory, near Basra. Tehran used Pasdaran forces
and Basij volunteers in one of the biggest land battles since
1945. Ranging in age from only nine to more than fifty, these
eager but relatively untrained soldiers swept over minefields
and fortifications to clear safe paths for the tanks. In doing
so, the Iranians sustained an immmense number of casualties, but
they enabled Iran to recover some territory before the Iraqis
could repulse the bulk of the invading forces.
By the end of 1982, Iraq had been resupplied with new Soviet
materiel, and the ground war entered a new phase. Iraq used newly
acquired T-55 tanks and T-62 tanks, BM-21 Stalin Organ rocket
launchers, and Mi-24 helicopter gunships to prepare a Soviet-type
three-line defense, replete with obstacles, minefields, and fortified
positions. The Combat Engineer Corps proved efficient in constructing
bridges across water obstacles, in laying minefields, and in preparing
new defense lines and fortifications.
In 1983 Iran launched three major, but unsuccessful, humanwave
offensives, with huge losses, along the frontier. On February
6, Tehran, using 200,000 "last reserve" Pasdaran troops, attacked
along a 40-kilometer stretch near Al Amarah, about 200 kilometers
southeast of Baghdad. Backed by air, armor, and artillery support,
Iran's six-division thrust was strong enough to break through.
In response, Baghdad used massive air attacks, with more than
200 sorties, many flown by attack helicopters. More than 6,000
Iranians were killed that day, while achieving only minute gains.
In April 1983, the Mandali-Baghdad northcentral sector witnessed
fierce fighting, as repeated Iranian attacks were stopped by Iraqi
mechanized and infantry divisions. Casualties were very high,
and by the end of 1983, an estimated 120,000 Iranians and 60,000
Iraqis had been killed. Despite these losses, in 1983 Iran held
a distinct advantage in the attempt to wage and eventually to
win the war of attrition.
Data as of May 1988