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Battle of the Marshes
Part of Iran-Iraq War, Battle of the Marshes
DateFebruary 14, 1984-March 19, 1984
LocationLakes of the Hawizah Marshes in Iraq
Result Pyrrhic Iranian victory
Iran captures the Majnoon islands
Iraq Iraq Iran Iran
Commanders and leaders

Iran Hossein Kharrazi

Iran Mohsen Rezaee
250,000 250,000
Casualties and losses
4,000-9,000 20,000

Operation Kheibar was an Iranian offensive in the Iran-Iraq War. It was part of the Battle of the Marshes.


After the unsuccessful diversionary attacks Operation Dawn V and Dawn VI in southern Iraq, Iran opened a front at the lakes of the Hawizeh Marshes. 250,000 Iranian troops swept through the Iraqi desert and were met by a mechanized force that slaughtered them. Iran needed air-support but lacked spare parts for its American-made planes. This became a serious problem for Iran and led to heavy casualties.

Iran enjoyed a zealous force of Pasdaran and Basij, but could not replace their deaths, forcing them to rely on artillery, air-support, and tanks.

The battle

On February 14, 1984, Iran fought through Iraqi defenses to the oil-rich Majnoon Island. Iran now was ready to launch the final attack of the Battle of the Marshes. A loss would allow Iraq to regain all territory lost in the battle. Operation Kheibar was Iran's their first strategic offensive. The IRIAF could only provide an inadequate 100 combat sorties per day on average. The Iraqi Air Force had their hands full on the southern front. Because of Iran's lack of aircraft, they used helicopters to support their troops. Eventually the Iranians swept across the marshes and forced the Iraqis out of the Majnoon islands - a major disaster for Iraq.


In the end Iran suffered 20,000 casualties in the battle of the Marshes and only inflicted 9,000 casualties on Iraq. But for Iraq even 9,000 was far too much. After the battle, Iran tried unsuccessfully to take the Baghdad-Basra highway with Operation Badr. At the end of the War, Iraq expelled the Iranians from Majnoon island by using large-scale poison-gas attacks.



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