Operation Forty Stars
|Operation Forty Stars|
|Part of Iran–Iraq War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|National Liberation Army of Iran|
|22 PMOI brigades||16,000 (PMOI claim)|
|Casualties and losses|
71 dead (PMOI claim)
240 wounded (PMOI claim)
Thousands dead (Iranian claim)
|8,000 dead and wounded (PMOI claim)
numerous 155mm and 130mm artillery pieces
numerous TOW ATGMs
numerous HAWK SAM batteries, and hundreds of small arms, mortars and machineguns captured
Operation Forty Stars, (Persian: عملیات چلچراغ) also known as Operation Forty Lights, or Chelcheraq, was an offensive conducted by the PMOI and the Iraqi military at the closing stages of the Iran–Iraq War.
The bloody Iran–Iraq War had been ongoing for nearly 8 years. By April 1988, the Iraqis, rearmed by foreign allies, were retaking the initiative for the first time since the beginning of the war. They launched several major offensives to recapture their own territory in Iraq and pressure Iran to accept a ceasefire. Operation Forty Stars (Persian: Chehel Cheragh) was one of those battles, planned in conjunction with the Iranian opposition group the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which was actively collaborating with Iraq.
Prior to the battle, the Iraqi military deployed large amounts of armor and chemical weapons opposite to the Iranian border town of Mehran (in which several battles had been fought earlier, and now was in ruins). While Iraq would support the attack with armor, artillery, air power, and chemical weapons, the bulk of the infantry operations would be carried out by the MEK forces.
On the night of Saturday 18 June, Iraq launched the operation with the help of the MEK. With 530 aircraft sorties and heavy use of nerve gas, they crushed the Iranian forces in the area around Mehran, killing or wounding 3,500 and nearly destroying a Revolutionary Guard division. The Iranian town of Mehran was captured and occupied by the combined MEK and Iraqi forces. The Iraqi/MEK forces captured several heights around the city, and took several supply dumps intact, enough to equip and supply 2 divisions. Booty included many Toyota Land Cruisers.
The Iraqis later withdrew back across the border on the night of 21 June, leaving the MEK forces in occupation of the area. It was a severe defeat for the Iranian forces, who lost a large amount of intact equipment, along with many troops killed or captured. Iraq also launched a wide-scale strategic bombing campaign on Iranian population centres and economic targets, setting 10 oil installations and six crude oil production plants in Ahwaz on fire and two pumping stations at Bibi Hakemeh as well as the destruction of other facilities at Gach Saran. Moreover, the bombing campaign included strikes on power stations, natural gas plants and offshore oil facilities.
- "The Combination of Iraqi offensives and Western intervention force Iran to accept a cease-fire: September 1987 to March 1989". The Lessons of Modern War – Volume II: Iran–Iraq War (PDF). Center for Strategic and International Studies.