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Operation Forty Stars
Part of Iran–Iraq War
Date18 June 1988
LocationMehran County, Iran
Result MEK seizes Mehran
People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI)
Commanders and leaders
Massoud Rajavi

Iran Hashemi Rafsanjani

Iran Colonel Ali Shahbazi
22 PMOI brigades 16,000 (PMOI claim)
Casualties and losses
71 dead (PMOI claim)
240 wounded (PMOI claim)[1]
Thousands dead (Iranian claim)[1]

8,000 dead and wounded (PMOI claim)[1]
1,500+ captured[2]

independent estimate, 3,000-5,000 killed or wounded

Operation Forty Stars, also known as Operation Forty Lights, or Chelcheraq, was a military operation conducted by the PMOI and Iraqi military during 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 offensives to recapture their 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 its chemical weapons corps 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, poison gas, and air power, the bulk of operation would be carried out the MEK forces.

The Battle

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.[3] The Iranian town Mehran was captured and occupied by the combined MEK and Iraqi forces.[3] Iraq also launched air raids on Iranian population centres and economic targets, setting 10 oil installations on fire.[3] The Iraqi/MEK forces captured several heights around the city, and took several supply dumps intact, along with 2 divisions worth of supplies (including 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.[1] It was a severe defeat for the Iranian forces, who lost a large amount of intact equipment, along with many troops killed or captured.



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