Friday, February 23, 2024

Saddam’s Great Iraq – 8

Location of Shattal Arab

I was on the project around Fallujah Town. Iran – Iraq War that started during last quarter of 1980 gained full momentum during 1981. Each country blamed the other for starting war. Iran had been passing through a revolutionary period under supreme guidance of Imam Khumaini. When Imam Khumaini was informed that the motherland had been attacked by Iraq, he simply said, “If it is from God, it is for our benefit”. In the start of the war, Iranians suffered heavy losses of civil and defence lives and properties. Khurram Shahar was mostly destroyed where many children, women and old people died inside their houses. I had been told a very pathetic story that will never leave my memory. When Iraqi forces entered a house in Khurran Shahar, they saw a child in the chair with his book opened before him on the table. In a well seated position in the chair they discovered that he was dead as a result of the firing and bombardment. Secondly, Qasr-e-Shereen and other small towns in western Iran met the same fate. Army, air force and navy of Iran had been shattered since the start of the Iranian revolution under Imam Khumaini who thought that corrupt supporters of Shah of Iran must be eliminated at all costs. Many generals and senior officers were given the capital punishment. This proved to be very favourable atmosphere for Iraqi rulers to hit hard and get hold of oil rich spots in Iran. Air force, navy and long range missiles were being used mercilessly. Thousands of people died in capital Tehran as a result of missiles. Iran’s initial defensive efforts were no more than a drowning man catching at the straw. On all radios and TV channels all news about the war consisted of Iraqi advances.

Air Attack on Iran

The house in which we were accommodated to run the project was near the bridge on River Faraat. With meager resources, Iranian air force also decided to hit the communications lines in Iraq. One day the Iranian plans came on a mission to destroy the bridge on River Faraat, very close to our residence. All of us took to safe corners but the air force planes returned without unloading. It was very strange for all of us. Later a Pakistani told me that he was on road near the bridge when the Iranian planes arrived. The pilots saw rush of civil conveyance on both sides of the bridge, so instead of completing their mission, they rose up to the air and returned to Iran. After a few days time another Iranian plan came over in Fallujah. It was midday time. Anti air craft firing was showered at it from all directions. It did complete its round over the target site. He as well could not unload. But while returning home he served a severe burst evidently for the anti air craft guns. Some civilians were wounded in this burst attack. One day another Iranian air mission unloaded somewhere near Fallujah. The entire locality was shaken and our house appeared to have been badly shaken.

Iranian forces became more and more organized day by day. They worked hard day and night to discipline and train their troops. In the meantime, volunteers and patches of troops kept the Iraqis engaged. Air force also played similar part. The joyful outlook of Iraqi people showed that they were over confident. They did not know the designs of Iranians. Iraqi forces were busy in fortifying their captured areas. At some places, especially at left bank of Shattal Arab, they were busy in building embankments as high as tens of meters. They appeared to be having no intention ever to hand over these areas back to Iranians.

Khurram Shahar destroyed

To the utter surprise of Iraqis, the Iranians started halting their advances. Iraqis deployed more contingents, more arms, more boats, more air raids and more ground to ground missiles. Iraqi anger became uncontrolled. But Iranians firmly stopped the Iraqis. The way they were halting Iraqis, spoke of dangerous fury against them. Then Iranians resorted to war strategies not heard of in the history of previous wars. One such strategy was lunching of a big but unpredicted attack against the Iraqis in vast occupied areas. They managed a thick layer of crude oil flowing in Shattal Arab’s waters. A burning stick was shown to the crude oil. From the other side heavy artillery was brought to action. The retreating troops horrified by the artillery firing jumped into water by count of thousands out of which a few only escaped. Heavy shelling from one side and high fire flames on the other served heavy causalities to the Iraqis. Thousands were held captive and taken to Tehran or elsewhere at suitable camps. Thousands lost their lives in the fire. Charred bodies of Iraqi troops were floating at the shores of Kuwait, Kuwaitis first thought that bodies were of Iranian troops, but when they examined closely they found that they were all Iraqis. The Kuwaiti government collected all these bodies and transported these over to Baghdad in long vehicles. It was a victory for Iran that Iraq could never estimate. Iraq retaliated by ground to ground missiles killing hundreds of civilians in various parts of Iran.



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Category: Travel

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