The Iraqis attacked again on 28 January 1985; they were defeated, and the Iranians retaliated on 11 March 1985 with an offensive directed against Basra, codenamed Operation Badr (after the Battle of Badr, Muhammad's first military victory in Mecca). Ayatollah Khomeini urged Iranians on, declaring:
It is our belief that Saddam wishes to return Islam to blasphemy and polytheism...if America becomes victorious...and grants victory to Saddam, Islam will receive such a blow that it will not be able to raise its head for a long time...The issue is one of Islam versus blasphemy, and not of Iran versus Iraq.
This operation was similar to Operation Kheibar, though it invoked more planning. Iran used 100,000 troops, with 60,000 more in reserve. They assessed the marshy terrain, plotted points where they could land tanks, and constructed pontoon bridges across the marshes. The Basij forces were also equipped with anti-tank weapons.
The ferocity of the Iranian offensive broke through the Iraqi lines. The Revolutionary Guard, with the support of tanks and artillery, broke through the north of Qurna on 14 March. That same night 3,000 Iranian troops captured part of the Baghdad–Basra Highway 8, which they had failed to achieve in Operations Dawn 5 and 6, and reached the Tigris River.
Saddam responded by launching chemical attacks against the Iranian positions along the highway and by initiating the second "war of the cities", with an air and missile campaign against twenty Iranian population centres, including Tehran. Under General Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai and General Jamal Zanoun (both considered to be among Iraq's the most skilled commanders), the Iraqis launched air attacks against the Iranian positions and pinned them down. They then launched a pincer attack using mobile infantry and heavy artillery. Chemical weapons were used, and the Iraqis also flooded Iranian trenches with specially-constructed pipes delivering water from the Tigris River.
The Iranians retreated back to the Hoveyzeh marshes while being attacked by helicopters, and the highway was recaptured by the Iraqis. Operation Badr resulted in 10,000–12,000 Iraqi casualties and 15,000 Iranian ones.
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“Human knowledge and human power meet in one; for where the cause is not known the effect cannot be produced. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed; and that which in contemplation is as the cause is in operation as the rule.”
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