Operation Dawn 8

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Operation Dawn 8
Part of Iran–Iraq War
First Battle of al-Faw
Operation dawn 8 map.svg
Date9–25 February 1986
Locational-Faw Peninsula

Iranian victory

  • Tactical Iranian success
  • Iraqi defensive failure
  • Iraqi counter-attack fails
Iran captures the al-Faw Peninsula
 Iraq  Iran
Commanders and leaders
Iraq Maher Abd al-Rashid
Iraq Hisham Sabah al-Fakhri
Iraq Saadi Tuma Abbas
Iran Hossein Kharrazi
25,000-30,000 soldiers 100,000 soldiers
50,000 Pasdaran and Basij
Casualties and losses
17,000 dead 30,000 dead

Operation Dawn 8 (Persian: عملیات والفجر ۸‎) was an Iranian military operation conducted during the Iran–Iraq War, part of the First Battle of al-Faw.

The Iranian operation is considered to be one of Iran's greatest achievements in the Iran–Iraq War. The Iranians were able to capture the al-Faw Peninsula, cutting off Iraqi access to the Persian Gulf in the process; this in turn hardened Iraqi attitudes to prosecute the war. The Faw Peninsula was later recaptured by Iraqi forces near the end of the war by the massive and illegal use of chemical weapons.

Iranian offensive[edit]

On 9 February 1986, the Iranians launched the operation, in which 100,000 troops comprising 5 Army divisions and 50,000 men from the Pasdaran and the Basij advanced in a two-pronged offensive into southern Iraq.[1] Unlike the earlier offensives, Dawn 8 was planned entirely by professional Army officers, all of whom had begun their careers under the Shah.[1] The Iranians launched a feint attack against Basra, which was stopped by the Iraqis.[1] Meanwhile, the main Iranian blow fell on the strategically important Al-Faw Peninsula, which fell after only 24 hours of fighting.[1]

The Iranians launched their assault on the peninsula at night, their men arriving on rubber boats.[2] After taking the Faw, the Iranians built a pontoon bridge and began to dig in.[2]

Iraqi counter-offensive[edit]

On 12 February 1986, the Iraqis began a counter-offensive to re-take the Faw, which failed after a week of intense fighting.[1] Saddam sent one of his best commanders, General Maher Abd al-Rashid and the Republican Guard to begin a new offensive to re-capture the Faw on 24 February 1986.[1] A new round of intensive fighting took place, centered on a three-pronged counterattack.[1] The Iraqi offensives were supported by helicopter gunships, hundreds of tanks and a huge bombing offensive by the Iraqi Air Force.[3] Despite having an advantage in firepower and the extensive use of chemical warfare, the Iraqi attempt to re-take the Faw again ended in failure.[1]


The fall of al-Faw and the failure of the Iraqi counter-offensives were huge blows to the prestige of the Ba'ath regime, and led to fears all over the Gulf that Iran might win the war.[1] In particular, Kuwait felt menaced with Iranian troops only ten miles away, and increased its support of Iraq accordingly.[4] During the Second Battle of al-Faw in April 1988 Iraq re-captured the peninsula.

In popular culture[edit]

The Season One of the war documentary Ravayat-e Fath depicts Operation Dawn 8.


The Valfajr torpedo produced domestically for the Iranian Navy has been named after this operation's code-name.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Karsh, Efraim The Iran-Iraq War 1980–1988, London: Osprey, 2002 page 48
  2. ^ a b Bulloch, John & Morris, Harvey The Gulf War, Methuen: London, 1989 page 240.
  3. ^ Bulloch, John & Morris, Harvey The Gulf War, Methuen: London, 1989 page 242.
  4. ^ Bulloch, John & Morris, Harvey The Gulf War, Methuen: London, 1989 page 241.