Iran Table of Contents
The "war of attrition" began after the Iranian high command passed from regular military leaders to clergy in mid-1982. Although Basra was within range of Iranian artillery, the clergy used "human-wave" attacks by the Pasdaran and Basij against the city's defenses, apparently waiting for a coup to topple Saddam Husayn. All such assaults faced Iraqi artillery fire and received heavy casualties.
Throughout 1983 both sides demonstrated their ability to absorb and to inflict severe losses. Iraq, in particular, proved adroit at constructing defensive strong points and flooding lowland areas to stymie the Iranian thrusts, hampering the advance of mechanized units. Both sides also experienced difficulties in effectively utilizing their armor. Rather than maneuver their armor, they tended to dig in tanks and use them as artillery pieces. Furthermore, both sides failed to master tank gunsights and fire controls, making themselves vulnerable to antitank weapons.
Data as of December 1987