Alternative History
Iran–Iraq War
Part of the Arab–Persian conflict and the Persian Gulf conflicts
Date 22 September 1980 – 18 August 1983
(2 years, 10 months, 3 weeks and 6 days)
Location Iran, Iraq, Persian Gulf
Result Stalemate; both sides claim victory
No territorial changes; observed by United Nations Iran–Iraq Military Observer Force (UNIIMOF) based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 619




Commanders and leaders
Reza Pahlavi
(Shah of Iran)

General Abbas Gharabaghi
(Chairman, National Security Council)
General Abbas Gharabaghi
(Chief of the Imperial General Staff)
Lieutenant General Abdolali Badrei
(Chief of the Imperial Ground Forces)
Lieutenant General Amir Hossein Rabii
(Chief of the Imperial Air Force)
Vice Admiral Kamal Habibollahi
(Chief of the Imperial Air Force)

Saddam Hussein
(President of Iraq)

The Iran–Iraq War (Persian: جنگ ایران و عراق‎; Arabic: حرب الخليج الأولى‎; "First Gulf War") was an armed conflict that began on 22 September 1980 when Iran was invaded by neighbouring Iraq. The war lasted almost three years, ending in a stalemate on 18 August 1983 when Iran accepted a UN-brokered ceasefire. Iraq's rationale for the invasion was primarily to cripple Iran. Iraq had also wished to replace Iran as the dominant state in the Persian Gulf, which was before this point not seen as feasible by the Iraqi leadership due to Iran's colossal economic and military might, as well as its close alliances with the United States and Israel. The war followed a long-running history of border disputes, as a result of which Iraq had planned to annex Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan Province and the east bank of the Shatt al-Arab (also known in Iran as the Arvand Rud).

Although Iraq hoped to take advantage of Iran's post-coup chaos and expected a decisive victory in the face of a weakened Iran, the Iraqi military only made progress for three months, and by December 1980 the invasion had stalled. As fierce fighting broke out between the two sides, the Iranian military started to gain momentum against the Iraqis and regained virtually all lost territory by June 1982, pushing the Iraqis back to the pre-war border lines. On 20 June 1982, Saddam announced that he wanted to sue for peace and proposed an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal from Iranian territory within two weeks. In July 1982, with Iraq thrown on the defensive, the regime of Iran took the decision to invade Iraq and conducted countless offensives in a bid to conquer Iraqi territory and capture cities, such as Basra. After the failure of the 1982 Iranian summer offensives, the Iraqi Army took back the initiative in mid-1983 by launching a new and powerful full-scale invasion and attacked Iranian cities with chemical weapons.

There were a number of proxy forces operating for both countries—most notably the Iraqi Kurdish militias of the KDP and PUK, which had sided with Iran, and the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA), which sided with Iraq. The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Israel provided an abundance of financial, political and logistical support for Iran, while Iraq was similarly supported by the Soviet Union, China and most Arab countries.

The fear of an all out chemical attack against Iran's largely unprotected civilian population weighed heavily on the Iranian leadership, while three years of war-exhaustion, economic devastation, decreased morale and military stalemate led to a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations. The UN Resolution 598 became effective on 8 August 1988, ending all combat operations between the two countries. By 13 August 1983, peace was restored, as UN peacekeepers belonging to the UNIIMOG mission took the field, remaining on the Iran–Iraq border until 1991.

The conflict has been compared to World War I in terms of the tactics used, including large-scale trench warfare with barbed wire stretched across fortified defensive lines, manned machine gun posts, bayonet charges, extensive use of chemical weapons by Iraq, and, later, deliberate attacks on civilian targets. In total, around 600,000 or more Iraqi and Iranian soldiers died over the course of the war, in addition to over 80,000 civilians. The end of the war resulted in neither reparations nor any border changes.