The War between Iran and Iraq

The Iraq-Iran War, known in Iran as the Imposed War,  the Holy Defense, or the Eight-Year War in Saddam’s Iraq, was the longest conventional war in the twentieth century and the second longest war of the century after the Vietnam War. It lasted nearly eight years. The war officially began on September 22, 1980. On this day, the sporadic border clashes between the two countries turned into a full-scale war with the simultaneous attack of the Iraqi Air Force on ten Iranian military and civilian airports and the invasion of the Iraqi ground forces on all borders, although Iraqi officials believed that the war on September 4, 1980 began with Iranian artillery attacks on Iraqi border cities. The Iran-Iraq war was one of the most important military conflicts of modern times, threatening the interests of most of the world and affecting the countries with the World’s largest oil reserves. In this war, some thought that the victory of either Iran or Iraq would upset the stability and balance of power in the region, so the superpowers tried to prevent either country from winning.

Three things distinguish the Iran-Iraq War. First, it was inordinately protracted, lasting longer than either world war, essentially because Iran did not want to end it, while Iraq could not. Second, it was sharply asymmetrical in the means employed by each side, because though both sides exported oil and purchased military imports throughout, Iraq was further subsidized and supported by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, allowing it to acquire advanced weapons and expertise on a much larger scale than Iran. Third, it included three modes of warfare absent in all previous wars since 1945: indiscriminate ballistic-missile attacks on cities by both sides, but mostly by Iraq; the extensive use of chemical weapons (mostly by Iraq); and some 520 attacks on third-country oil tankers in the Persian Gulf-for which Iraq employed mostly manned aircraft with anti shipping missiles against tankers lifting oil from Iran’s terminals. On the other hand, Iran used mines, gunboats, shore-launched missiles, and helicopters against tankers lifting oil from the terminals of Iraq’s Arab backers.

Reasons for starting the war:

Various factors over the decades have turned the differences between the two countries into a full-blown war. Disputes related to geopolitical, religious, and ethnic issues.

Border disputes:

The most important border dispute between the two countries was an old dispute over the status of the Arvand River. The end of the Shatt al-Arab or Arvand River forms the border between the two countries. The Iraqi government believed that the border between the two countries should be determined according to the provisions of the 1913 Treaty of Constantinople, but Iran considered the border between the two countries to be the Talug line, the deepest part of the river. The two countries once referred their differences to the League of Nations in 1934, however, no agreement was reached. In 1937, the first border treaty between the two countries was signed. According to this agreement, the border between the two countries was along the east bank of the river, but a four-mile anchorage section next to Abadan was assigned to Iran, and in this part, the talus line marked the border between the two countries. Iraq believed that Iran had taken advantage of the country’s precarious domestic political situation at the time to improve its position in the negotiations. Iran was also dissatisfied with the agreement, terminating it in the 1960s and calling for negotiations to determine a new border line, while putting pressure on the country while supporting Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. Finally, in the 1975 Algerian-Iraqi treaty, it accepted Iran’s demands for the Shatt al-Arab, and the Talug line became the official border between the two countries for the first time, and Iran pledged to end its support for Kurdish rebels. But five years later, five days before the start of the war, Saddam Hussein terminated the agreement, claiming that the treaty had lost its validity due to non-compliance by Iran.


The total number of combatants on both sides is unclear; but both countries were fully mobilized, and most men of military age were under arms. The number of casualties was enormous but equally uncertain. Estimates of total casualties range from 1,000,000 to twice that number. The number killed on both sides was perhaps 500,000, with Iran suffering the greatest losses. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 Kurds were killed by Iraqi forces during the series of campaigns code-named Anfāl (Arabic: “Spoils”) that took place in 1988.

Summary of the war process:

Signs of military tension between Iraq and Iran became apparent almost immediately after the Iranian revolution. On April 4, 1979, Iraq invaded Iranian airspace for the first time. Five days later, Iraqi forces attacked an Iranian border post in Qasr Shirin. In May, Iraq launched an airstrike on the city of Mehran. Since then, until the start of the war, more than 560 clashes have been reported on the Iranian-Iraqi border.

During a speech by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the UN Security Council on October 15, 1980, a few days after the start of the first conflict, he accused Iran of carrying out large-scale bombings of terrorists on Iraqi soil, resulting in large numbers of It killing the Iraqi people, it supports them.

Liberation of Khorramshahr:

Shortly before the conquest of Khorramshahr, CIA analysts in the United States concluded that if this trend continued, Iraq would lose the war with Iran. On June 23, 1982, Iran achieved another major victory. The Iraqi military, which had not yet recovered from the defeat of the siege of Abadan, found itself facing Operation Jerusalem. The operation was carried out on three axes south of Susangard in northern Khuzestan, the Ahvaz-Khorramshahr road in the center and the city of Khorramshahr itself, and this led to Iran’s victory on all three axes.  Less than 28 hours after the start of the operation, Iranian forces took control of the city. They seized it. 15,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed or captured during the operation.

CIA analysts predicted that other Arabs might intervene in the war and regionalize it. By early July 1982, Ronald Reagan had concluded that the United States could not allow Iraq to lose the war and must prevent a complete defeat at all costs.

The liberation of Khorramshahr was a major turning point in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. The two countries faced the fateful decision to continue the war or declare a ceasefire. At Saddam’s request, the United Nations urged Iran to accept the ceasefire; but there were many obstacles to this fire. Iraq continued to insist on the violation of the Algerian treaty and the sovereignty over the Arvand River. Iraq, on the other hand, still occupied parts of Iranian territory, and Ruhollah Khomeini wanted Saddam ousted. That is, Iran did not accept the ceasefire proposed in Security Council Resolution 514.

Iran and Iraq signed a formal peace agreement in 1990, before Iraq invaded Kuwait, and resumed diplomatic relations. From then on, the exchange of prisoners of war on both sides began. At the end of the eight-year war, some 40,000 Iranians were held captive in Iraq. In contrast, Iran held about 70,000 Iraqi prisoners. The exchange of prisoners on both sides lasted until March 2002. At the same time, Iraqi forces withdrew from the rest of Iran to the international border. By August 22, 1990, Iraqi forces had completely left Iran. 

  • Of course, issues related to this eight-year war are not limited to this short article, and I showed you a small part of it. Due to the sensitivity of this issue, I got help from two almost reputable sites (Wikipedia,, and in order to avoid misunderstandings, I wrote the same part of the content of the site without change.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *