Siege of Abadan

حصر آبادان

ID:20197 Section: Military

Updated:Monday 13th October 2014

Siege of Abadan Definition

(Wikipedia) - Siege of Abadan
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Siege of Abadan Belligerents Commanders and leaders Strength Casualties and losses
Part of Iran–Iraq War
Exploded tank, remains in Abadan as symbol of IranIraq War.
Date Location Result
November 6 1980 - 27 September 1981 (10 months and 3 weeks)
Abadan, Khuzestan province, southwest Iran
Iranian victory
  • Iraqi siege of the city fails
 Iraq  Iran
Saddam Hussein Abulhassan Banisadr Mostafa Chamran
24,500 men 360-800 tanks 15,000 men 92nd Armored Division 50-60 tanks
3,500-4,000 Dozens of armored vehicles Heavy 170+ tanks
  • v
  • t
  • e
Iran–Iraq War
Iraqi invasion

Stalemate (1981)

  • Nasr
  • H3

Iranian offensive (1982)

  • Samen-ol-A''emeh
  • Tariq al-Qods
  • Fath ol-Mobin
  • Beit ol-Moqaddas (2nd Khorramshahr)
  • Ramadan

Strategic stalemate (1983–84)

  • Before the Dawn
  • Dawn 1
  • Dawn 2
  • Dawn 3
  • Dawn 4
  • Dawn 5
  • Kheibar
  • Kurdish rebellion (1983)
  • Dawn 6
  • Marshes
  • Badr

Duel offensives (1985–86)

  • Dawn 8 (1st al-Faw)
  • Mehran
  • Karbala 4
  • Karbala-5
  • Karbala-6
  • Karbala-8
  • Karbala 10
  • Nasr 4

Final stages

  • Beit-ol-Moqaddas 2
  • Al-Anfal Campaign (Halabja)
  • Zafar 7
  • Tawakalna ala Allah (2nd al-Faw)
  • Forty Stars
  • Mersad

Tanker War

  • Earnest Will
  • Prime Chance
  • Eager Glacier
  • Nimble Archer
  • Praying Mantis

International incidents

The Siege of Abadan was a major action during the early part of the Iran–Iraq War.

  • 1 Prelude
  • 2 The plan
  • 3 The battle
  • 4 The siege
  • 5 Iraqi June Offensive
  • 6 Breaking of the Siege
  • 7 15 October ambush
  • 8 Aftermath
  • 9 References
  • 10 Bibliography


Abadan island was the site of the Abadan Refinery, one of the world''s largest oil refineries.

The plan

In September 1980 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein launched a surprise attack against Iran and invaded Iranian territory on a broad front. Iraq''s initial plan to attack Abadan Island called for a reinforced armored division to cross the Shatt al-Arab near Kharkiya on the road heading from Baghdad to Basra and then head south to capture the cities of Khorramshahr and Abadan, and subsequently engage any remaining local Iranian units. This reinforced division to be used included 500-600 tanks, as well as some special forces units, for a total troop strength of 20,000 men.

Iraqi commandos, driven by in initial success in the attack on Khorramshahr, had crossed the Karun River and reached the Abadan city limits on 22 September, but had been forced back by stiff resistance from Iranian paramilitary units, causing the Iraqis to withdraw to the western side of the Karun River, at the cost of several tanks and APCs. By 4 October Iraqi commanders reported that they had secured the main road from Abadan to Ahwaz, however it was not until late November that Iraq fully controlled the bridge to Abadan.

As the Iraqi army became preoccupied with the ongoing Battle of Khorramshahr, the original plan was heavily edited, with instead of calling for a quick engagement and occupation of Abadan, the plan now was to isolate local Iranian units within Abadan, and then lay siege to the island.

The battle

On November 3, Iraqi forces reached Abadan in Iran''s Khuzestan province. Iranian resistance proved too strong, however, so Iraqi commanders called for reinforcements. A second, weakened armored division with a strength of approximately 4,500 men and 200 tanks was sent to cut off Abadan and surround the city from the northeast, bypassing Khorramshahr, which was still under siege, by crossing the Karun River to the north of the city. These two Iraqi divisions faced an unknown number of Iranian troops. Most likely sources estimate that a single brigade defended Khorramshahr supported by two operational reserves located further north.

The siege

Although the Iraqis were repulsed by the Iranian Pasdaran unit, they managed to surround Abadan on three sides and occupy a portion of the city. However the Iraqis could not overcome the stiff resistance; sections of the city still under Iranian control were re-supplied, and received re-inforcements to replace losses, at night by boat and by helicopter. The Iraqis kept up a siege for several months, but never succeeded in capturing Abadan. Much of the city, including the oil refinery, was badly damaged or destroyed by the siege and by bombing.

Iraqi June Offensive

Facing declining morale and with the Shatt-al-Arab waterway still blocked by the besieged Iranians, Saddam ordered the Iraqis to attack in June, 1981. The Iranians had reinforced the garrison with 15,000 troops, including the Pasdaran, regular army, and Khuzestani Arab fighters. Iraq unleashed an offensive against the city, using 60,000 troops and tanks, outnumbering the Iranians 6-1. Despite that, the Iranians defeated the Iraqi assaults. The Iranians used their Chieftain tanks to help defeat the Iraqis.

Breaking of the Siege

see: Operation Samen ol-A''emeh

From 22–27 September 1981, Iran carried out Operation Samen-ol-A''emeh. During this battle, Iran carried out the first major use of human wave attacks. The siege of Abadan was broken, Iran took 3,000 casualties while the Iraqis took half of that number. Iran captured 2,500 prisoners and destroyed armored vehicles, while losing of their own 150 M-60 Patton tanks.

15 October ambush

On 15 October, the Iraqis forged their way to within one mile of Abadan and captured the city''s radio-television station. In a separate engagement farther north, near the Iraqi blocking position near Dar Khuyeh, an Iraqi armor force ambushed a large Iranian convoy, escorted by tanks coming from Ahwaz. Apparently this Iranian force was attempting to carry supplies to the besieged defenders of Abadan by way of the Abadan-Ahwaz highway. The short, but intense battle matched Iraqi T-55 and T-62 tanks against Iran''s Chieftains. This skirmish, which appears to have involved about a battalion''s worth of combat vehicles from each side, was an Iraqi victory as "the Iranians abandoned at least 20 Chieftains and other armored vehicles, and decamped on foot."


Abadan was largely in ruins in the aftermath of the siege. The Iraqi threat to Abadan had been broken, and the Iranians had managed to launch their first successful offensive against Iraq. Eventually, it would result in the driving out of Iraqi troops from Iran and the Liberation of Khorramshahr in 1982.

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