Operation Fath ol-Mobin

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Operation Fath ol-Mobin
Part of Iran-Iraq War
Date 22–28 March 1982
(6 days)
Location Khuzestan, South-West Iran
Result Decisive Iranian victory
Territorial
changes

Iranians recapture the DezfulShush area

  • Iraqi siege on Shush is broken
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 80,000-100,000 regulars
40,000 Pasdaran
30,000 Basij
15,000 militia
Casualties and losses

25,000 killed or wounded
15,000-20,000 captured
361 tanks, IFVs and APCs, 18 aircraft, 300 vehicles, 50 artillery pieces and 30 engineering vehicles destroyed.

150 tanks, 170 APCs, 500 vehicles, several SAM-6 missiles, several surface-to-surface missiles, 165 artillery pieces (182 mm, 130 mm, 152 mm) and 50 engineering vehicles captured.[1]
30,000 casualties (mostly Basij)
196 tanks destroyed

Operation Fath ol-Mobin (Persian: عملیات فتح‌المبین‎‎, Quranic phrase meaning "Undeniable Victory" or "Manifest Victory") 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, and was conducted in four phases.

Some believe that this operation was the turning point in the war[2][3] 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 major 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 and Karkheh rivers respectively 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, each composed 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. 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.[4]

Units[edit]

Iran[edit]

Karbala Central Command
Commanded by Lt. Gen. Ali Sayyad Shirazi

Source: [5]

Iraq[edit]

  • 1st Mechanized Division
    • 34th Armored Brigade
    • 51st Armored Brigade
    • 1st Mechanized Brigade
    • 27th Mechanized Brigade
    • 93rd Infantry Brigade
    • 96th Infantry Brigade
    • 109th Infantry Brigade
    • 426th Infantry Brigade
    • 4 artillery battalions
  • 3rd Armored Division
    • 6th Armored Brigade
    • 12th Armored Brigade
    • 8th Mechanized Brigade
    • 3 artillery battalions
  • 6th Armored Division
    • 25th Mechanized Brigade
  • 7th Infantry Division
    • 19th Infantry Brigade
    • 38th Infantry Brigade
  • 9th Armored Division
    • 14th Mechanized Brigade
    • 35th Armored Brigade
    • 43rd Armored Brigade
  • 10th Armored Division
    • 17th Armored Brigade
    • 42nd Armored Brigade
    • 51st Armored Brigade
    • 60th Armored Brigade
    • 24th Mechanized Brigade
    • 55th Infantry Brigade
    • 99th Infantry Brigade
    • 423rd Infantry Brigade
    • 505th Infantry Brigade
    • 4 artillery battalions
  • 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 603rd, 604th, 605th Brigades
  • Republican Guard
    • 10th Armored Brigade (backup)
  • 91st Infantry Brigade
  • 92nd Infantry Brigade
  • 5th Border Guard Brigade
  • 9 commando battalions
  • Popular Army
  • 217th Artillery Battalion
  • Iraqi Air Force
  • Iraqi Army Air Corps

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