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Iran-Iraq War - Iran – Iraq War

1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq
Iran-Iraq war
Part of the Arab-Persian conflict and the conflicts in the Persian Gulf

From top left to bottom right :



Commanders and leaders

Ruhollah Khomeini
(Supreme Leader of Iran)

  • Abolhassan Banisadr
    (President of Iran, originally Commander in Chief, indicted and ousted in 1981)
  • Mohammad-Ali Rajai
    (President of Iran, assassinated in 1981)
  • Ali Khamenei
    (President of Iran)
  • Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
    (Chairman of Parliament and member of the Supreme National Defense Council, recently Commander-in-Chief)
  • Mohammad-Javad Bahonar
    (Iranian Prime Minister, assassinated in 1981)
  • Mir-Hossein Mousavi
    (Iranian Prime Minister)
  • Valiollah Fallahi, Brig. Gen.
    (Chief of Staff, killed in plane crash in 1981)
  • Qasem-Ali Zahirnejad, Brig. Gen.
    (Chief of staff)
  • Esmaeil Sohrabi, Colonel
    (Chief of staff)
  • Ali Shahbazi, Brig. Gen.
    (Chief of staff)
  • Mohsen Rezaee
    (Commander of the IRGC)
  • Massoud Barzani
    (Chairman of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan)
  • Jalal Talabani
    (Chairman of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan)
  • Chenar Faraj
    (Leader of the Peshmerga)
  • Nawshirwan Mustafa
    (Deputy Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan)
  • Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim
    (Chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq)
  • Abdul Aziz al-Hakim
    (Leader of the ISCI military wing)

Saddam Hussein
(President of Iraq)

Units involved
see order of battle see order of battle

Start of war:
110,000–150,000 soldiers

  • 1,700–2,100 tanks,
    (500 ready to use )
    1,000 armored vehicles,
    300 artillery pieces,
    485 fighter bombers,
    (205 fully functional)
    750 helicopters

    350,000 soldiers,
    700 tanks,
    2,700 armored vehicles,
    400 artillery pieces,
    350 aircraft,
    700 helicopters

    600,000 soldiers,
    1,500+ tanks,
    800 armored vehicles,
    600 heavy artillery pieces,
    60-80 fighter-bombers,
    70-90 helicopters

Start of war:
200,000 soldiers

  • 2,800 tanks,

    4,000 APCs,
    1,400 artillery pieces,
    380 fighter bombers,

    350 helicopters

    175,000 soldiers,
    1,200 tanks,
    2,300 armored vehicles,
    400 artillery pieces,
    450 aircraft,
    180 helicopters

    1,500,000 soldiers,
    ~ 5,000 tanks,
    8,500-10,000 APCs,
    6,000–12,000 artillery pieces,
    900 fighter-bombers,
    1,000 helicopters
Losses and losses

Military dead:

  • 123,220-160,000 KIA,
    60,711 MIA
    (Iranian claim)
    800,000 dead
    (Iraqi claim)

    320,000-500,000 WIA
    40,000–42,875 prisoners of war
    11,000–16,000 civilian deaths

    Economic loss:
    $ 627 billion

Military dead:

Civilian deaths: 100.000+

The Iran-Iraq war (Persian: جنگ ایران و عراق; Arabic: حرب الخليج الأولى, الحرب الإيرانية العراقية) was a protracted armed conflict that began on September 22, 1980 when Iraq invaded neighboring Iran. The war lasted nearly eight years and ended in a stalemate on August 20, 1988 when Iran accepted a UN-brokered ceasefire. Iraq's rationale for the invasion was primarily to cripple Iran and prevent Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini from exporting the 1979 Iranian revolution movement Shia-majority Iraq and threatening the Sunni-dominated Ba'athist leadership. Iraq also wanted to replace Iran as the dominant state in the Persian Gulf, which was not seen as feasible by the Iraqi leadership before that point due to the colossal economic and military might of pre-revolutionary Iran, as well as its close alliances with the United States and Israel. The war followed a long history of border disputes over which Iraq planned to annex the oil-rich Iranian province of Khuzestan and the east bank of the Shatt al-Arab (also known as Arvand Rud in Iran).

Although Iraq wanted to take advantage of Iran's post-revolutionary chaos and awaited a decisive victory in the face of a severely weakened Iran, the Iraqi military made progress for only three months, and by December 1980 the invasion had stalled. When fierce fighting broke out between the two sides, the Iranian military gained momentum against the Iraqis and by June 1982 retook virtually all of the lost territory, pushing the Iraqis back to the pre-war borders. For the next five years, Iran went on the offensive, until Iraq recaptured the initiative in mid-1988 and its main offensives led to the final end of the war. There were a number of representatives for both countries - in particular the Iranian People's Mujahideen, who sided with Iraq, and the Iraqi-Kurdish militias of the KDP and PUK, which sided with Iran. The United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, France, and most of the Arab countries provided Iraq with abundant financial, political, and logistical support while Iran was comparatively isolated.

The eight years of war exhaustion, economic devastation, decreased morale, military stalemate, lack of international sympathy for the use of weapons of mass destruction against Iranian civilians by Iraqi forces, and mounting military tensions between the US and Iran resulted in one Armistice brokered by the United Nations.

The conflict has been likened to World War I in terms of tactics used, including large-scale trench warfare with barbed wire spanned over fortified defensive lines, manned machine-gun posts, bayonet attacks, Iranian attacks on human waves, and extensive use of chemical weapons by Iraq, and later deliberate use Attacks on civilian targets. A special feature of the war is the Iranian cult of martyrs, which had been developed in the years before the revolution. The discourses on martyrdom formulated in the Iranian-Shiite Islamic context led to the tactic of "human wave attacks" and thus had a lasting influence on the dynamics of the war.

In total, around 500,000 Iraqi and Iranian soldiers and an estimated 100,000 civilians died in the course of the war. The end of the war resulted in neither reparations nor border changes.


The Iran-Iraq War was originally called the Gulf War until the Gulf War of 1990 and 1991, after which it became known as First Gulf War . The Iraq-Kuwait conflict, known as Second Gulf War was known after all, simply as Persian Gulf War known . The Iraq war from 2003 to 2011 was called Second Gulf War designated .

In Iran the war is as Imposed war (جنگ تحمیلی Jang-e Tahmili ) and Holy defense (دفاع مقدس Defā'-e Moghaddas ) known. State media in Iraq called the war Saddam's Qadisiyyah (قادسية صدام, Qādisiyyat Ṣaddām ) relating to the battle of al-Qādisiyyah in the 7th century, in which Arab warriors defeated the Sasan Empire during the Muslim conquest of Iran.


Iran-Iraq relations

In April 1969, Iran repealed the 1937 Treaty on the Shatt al-Arab, and Iranian ships stopped paying tolls to Iraq when they used the Shatt al-Arab. The Shah argued that the 1937 treaty was unfair to Iran because almost all of the world's river borders were along the Valley path and because most of the ships that used the Shatt al-Arab were Iranians. Iraq threatened a war over the Iranian relocation, but on April 24, 1969, an Iranian tanker escorted by Iranian warships (Joint Operation Arvand) sailed down the Shatt al-Arab, and Iraq - as a militarily weaker state - did nothing. The Iranian repeal of the 1937 treaty marked the beginning of a period of acute Iraqi-Iranian tension that would last until the 1975 Algiers Accords.

Relations between the governments of Iran and Iraq briefly improved in 1978 when Iranian agents in Iraq made plans for a pro-Soviet Coup discovered against the Iraqi government. When Saddam was informed of this conspiracy, he ordered the execution of dozens of army officers and, as a sign of reconciliation, expelled Ruhollah Khomeini, an exiled leader of the clerical opposition to the Shah, from Iraq. Even so, Saddam viewed the 1975 Algiers Accords merely as a ceasefire rather than a final settlement and waited for the opportunity to contest it.

After the Iranian Revolution

Tensions between Iraq and Iran were fueled by Iran's Islamic revolution and the appearance of a pan-Islamic force in opposition to Iraq's Arab nationalism. Despite Iraq's goal of regaining the Shatt al-Arab, the Iraqi government initially appeared to welcome the Iranian revolution that overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was seen as a common enemy. There were frequent clashes on the Iranian-Iraqi border in 1980. Iraq publicly complained about at least 544 incidents and Iran cited at least 797 violations of its border and airspace.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini urged the Iraqis to overthrow the Ba'ath government, which was received with considerable anger in Baghdad. On July 17, 1979, despite Khomeini's appeal, Saddam delivered a speech in which he praised the Iranian revolution and called for an Iraqi-Iranian friendship based on their not interfering in each other's internal affairs. When Khomeini rejected Saddam's overture calling for an Islamic revolution in Iraq, Saddam was alarmed. The new Islamic government of Iran was seen in Baghdad as an irrational, existential threat to the Ba'ath government, especially because the secular Ba'ath party discriminated against and threatened the fundamentalist Shiite movement in Iraq, its clergy, and the allies of Iran in Iraq and the Khomeini viewed as oppressed.

Saddam's primary interest in the war may also stem from his desire to correct the alleged "injustice" of the Algiers Accords and finally to realize his desire to annex Khuzestan and become the regional superpower. Saddam's goal was to replace Egypt as "leader of the Arab world" and to achieve hegemony over the Persian Gulf. He saw Iran's growing weakness due to revolution, sanctions and international isolation. Saddam had invested heavily in the Iraqi military since his defeat by Iran in 1975, buying large quantities of arms from the Soviet Union and France. Between 1973 and 1980 alone, Iraq purchased an estimated 1,600 tanks and APCs, as well as over 200 Soviet-made aircraft. By 1980 Iraq had 242,000 soldiers (second only to Egypt in the Arab world), 2,350 tanks and 340 combat aircraft. As he watched the disintegration of the powerful Iranian army, which frustrated him from 1974–1975, he saw an opportunity to attack, using the threat of the Islamic Revolution as a pretext. The Iraqi intelligence service reported in July 1980 that, despite Iran's belligerent rhetoric, "it is clear that Iran is currently not empowered to launch or defend large-scale offensive operations against Iraq." Days before the Iraqi invasion and amid the rapidly escalating cross-border skirmishes, Iraqi military intelligence reiterated on September 14th that "the enemy operations organization is not displaying hostile intentions and appears to be adopting a more defensive mode."

On March 8, 1980, Iran announced that it would withdraw its ambassador to Iraq, downgraded its diplomatic relations to chargé d'affaires, and urged Iraq to do the same. The following day, Iraq declared the Iranian ambassador to be nona grata and requested his withdrawal from Iraq by March 15.