Operation Dawn 3

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Operation Dawn 3
Part of Iran–Iraq War
Date30 July – 9 August 1983
(1 week and 3 days)

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 (Persian: عملیات والفجر-۳) was an operation during Iran-Iraq war which was commenced on 3 August 1983 at 23 o'clock with the operation code of "Ya Allah" (Persian/Arabic: یاالله). This operation was launched in the range of "semi-extensive operation" located in the genral area of Mehran (in Ilam province);[1] and eventually led in the liberation of Mehran by Iranian forces.[2] Iran's goals of the operation were as follows:

  • Liberation of Mehran city from the eye/range of the enemy
  • Making facility in the relation of "Dehloran - Mehran" and also "Ilam - Mehram"
  • Modulation of defense lines against the enemy (Iraq), and pulling it from the heights to plain(s).[3]

It was Iran's worst defeat out of all the Dawn operations. Around 180,000 Iranian troops participated in this offensive, which targeted the central front in the region of Mehran.[4] However, withering Iraqi firepower in support of deeply entrenched troops slaughtered the advancing Iranians. Although Iranian troops were highly motivated, they were poorly trained and equipped for this battle. For Iran, the operation was a disaster.

The Iraqis struck back by emerging from their trenches to counterattack into Iran and capture Mehran, for the second time.


The Operation Dawn 3 is part of the series of Dawn operations, which involved about 500,000 troops covering a 150-mile front.[5] It was launched in February 1983 and was described by Speaker Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as the final move towards ending the Iran-Iraq war.[6] The first campaign was concentrated in the Hawizeh marsh area and in the Haj Oman during the Operation Dawn 2.[6] These achieved only minimal gains and started to diminish the morale of the Iranian troops as well as the Iranian reputation.[6] The Iranians began a new attack in July 1983 in the central (Zurbatiya) sector.[7]


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]


  1. ^ Walfajr-3 operation, a victor operation yjc.ir Retrieved 9 November 2019
  2. ^ How did Walfajr-3 operation led in the liberation of Mehran? mashreghnews.ir Retrieved 9 November 2019
  3. ^ Operation Walfajr-3 aviny.com Retrieved 3 November 2019
  4. ^ Karsh, Efraim (2014-06-06). The Iran–Iraq War 1980–1988. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781472809995.
  5. ^ Bradley, Mark (2011-10-27). Iran and Christianity: Historical Identity and Present Relevance. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781441111142.
  6. ^ a b c Rubin, Barry (2009). Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle East. Oxon: Routledge. p. 56. ISBN 0415457580.
  7. ^ Malovany, Pesach (2017-06-16). Wars of Modern Babylon: A History of the Iraqi Army from 1921 to 2003. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813169453.