Operation Fath ol-Mobin

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Operation Fath ol-Mobin
Part of Iran-Iraq War
Date 22 March - 28 March 1982
(6 days)
Location Khuzestan, South-West Iran
Result Decisive Iranian victory
Territorial
changes
Iranians recapture the Dezful-Shush area
Belligerents
 Iraq  Iran
Commanders and leaders
Iraq Saddam Hussein Iran Ali Sayad Shirazi
Iran Hossein Kharrazi
Iran Mohammad Boroujerdi
Strength
80,000-160,000 soldiers 40,000-50,000 regulars
40,000 Pasdaran
30,000 Basij
Casualties and losses
20,000 casualties
15,000-20,000 captured
320 tanks, IFVs and APCs
30,000 casualties
196 tanks destroyed (on 22 March)

Operation Fath ol-Mobin (Persian: عملیات فتح‌المبین‎) was a major Iranian military operation conducted during the Iran-Iraq War, in March 1982. The operation was led by Lt. General Ali Sayad Shirazi.

Some believe that this operation was the turning point in the war[1][2] and that it led to the eviction of Iraqi troops from Khuzestan. Others (including Efraim Karsh) believe it was actually the operation working in tandem with others which led to the expulsion of Iraqi troops from southern Iran. He believes that in fact, Operation Beit ol-Moqaddas, which lasted from April to May 1982, had the greatest effect, because the Iranians were able to liberate the strategically important city of Khorramshahr.

Prelude[edit]

On 22 September 1980, Saddam Hussein, attempting to repeat the success of the Israeli pre-emptive air strike against the Arab air forces in the Six Day War, launched numerous sorties against Iranian air fields, hoping to destroy the Iranian air force on the ground. Although they failed, Saddam was still not going to be prevented from achieving his aim of establishing complete and utter Iraqi dominance of the Shatt al-Arab, called Arvand Rood in Iran (Persian: اروند رود) waterway. He launched a land invasion of Iran, focusing on southern Iran.

He was able to achieve success, capturing the important Iranian city of Khorramshahr. Although the Iraqis were not able to capture the city of Abadan, the way was open to Tehran as the Iranian defenses had collapsed. The Iraqi advance was halted at the Karun river and now Iran was able to counter-attack; although their first counter-attack was a failure, this one would be successful.

The battle[edit]

On 22 March 1982, precisely 18 months to the day of the Iraqi invasion, the Iranians launched Operation Fath ol-Mobin. They intended to use a pincer movement to encircle Iraqi forces who had halted outside the Iranian town of Shush. Under the command of the young Iranian Chief-of-Staff, Lieutenant General Ali Sayad Shirazi, the Iranians launched an armored thrust on the night of the 22nd followed by constant human-wave attacks by Pasdaran brigades, composed each of about 1,000 fighters.

The Iranians suffered much greater casualties than the Iraqis, because the Iranian attack involved massive unsupported frontal assaults made by the Pasdaran. The Iranian forces still had to contend with an Iraqi army which was entrenched on the front-line and they enjoyed a good amount of tank, artillery and aerial support. The Iranians kept up the momentum against the Iraqi forces and, after heavy Iraqi losses, Saddam ordered a retreat on the 28th. Three Iraqi divisions were encircled in the operation and destroyed within a week.

Aftermath[edit]

Along with Operation Tariq al-Qods and Operation Beit ol-Moqaddas, the Iranians were able to evict the Iraqi forces from southern Iran. The Iranians had succeeded in achieving their standing aim of reversing the gains made by the Iraqi armed forces in the initial stages of the Iran-Iraq War. Afterward, the Iranian hardliners, headed by the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, argued for the expansion of Iranian war operations into Iraq. They eventually succeeded in getting their way, and the Iranians commenced several operations to conquer territory.

But where the Iranians successfully used combined-arms operations to emerge victorious against the Iraqi troops in Iran, they relied upon unsupported human wave attacks by the poorly trained troops of the Pasdaran and the Basij. The wider operation to re-capture Khuzestan is rightly to be considered a turning point in the Iran-Iraq War; the Iranians were able to secure the Fao Peninsula in Operation Dawn 8, another victory in the Iran-Iraq War.

The Iraqis eventually stabilized their armed forces after their retreat from Iran. The result was that the Iranians would not be able to press their determined, but futile, assaults against a resurgent Iraqi army due to Iraqi chemical weapon attacks. Iraq was supported by both the United States and the Soviet Union who saw Saddam's regime as a much better option than the revolutionary government of Iran.[3]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988; Karsh, Efraim; Osprey Publishing; 2002
  • Iran at War: 1500-1988; Farrokh, Kaveh; General Military; 2011, p.363