Operation Dawn 3

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Operation Dawn 3
Part of Iran–Iraq War
Date 30 July – 9 August 1983
(1 month, 1 week and 3 days)
Location Mehran, Ilam Province

Decisive Iraqi victory

  • Iranian offensive failure
  • Iraqi counter-attack succeeds
Iraq captures Mehran
 Iraq  Iran
60,000 180,000
Casualties and losses
moderate heavy

Operation Dawn 3 or Operation Valfajr-3 was Iran's worst defeat out of all the Dawn operations. 180,000 Iranian troops participated in this attack but withering Iraqi firepower in support of deeply entrenched troops slaughtered the advancing Iranians.

The Iraqis struck back by emerging from their trenches to counterattack into Iran and capture Mehran, for the second time. Although Iranian troops were highly motivated, they were poorly trained and equipped for this battle. For Iran the operation was a disaster.


The Iranians attempted to further exploit activities in the north after Operation Dawn 2 on 30 July 1983. Iran saw an opportunity to sweep away Iraqi forces controlling the roads between the Iranian controlled mountain border towns of Mehran, Dehloran and Elam. Iraq conducted airstrikes against 50,000 Iranian forces lodged in mountainous terrain, exhausting themselves attempting to dislodge the Iranians. Realising they needed to alter their tactics, Iraq equipped attack helicopters with chemical warheads; while ineffective, it demonstrated both the Iraqi general staff's and Saddam's increasing interest in using chemical weapons. In the end, in total 17,000 soldiers had lost their lives,[clarification needed] with no gain for either country.[73]