Glimpses of Epic of 8-Year Holy Defense (35)
In the previous program we talked about the preparation of the Iranian forces for staging the great Bayt-ul Moqaddass operation to liberate the highly strategic city of Khorramshahr and the adjoining areas from the clutches of the Iraqi Ba'athist army.
The vastness of the operational area and the strategic importance of Khorramshahr led both Iran and Iraq to concentrate a large part of their military capability in the region. To keep the occupied territories of Iran, Saddam highly relied on the military equipment and ammunitions funneled by the two eastern and western blocs. He also was very much dependent on the financial and economic assistance poured by the reactionary Arab regimes of the region, especially the backward regime in Riyadh. On the contrary, the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite the severe military and economic sanctions imposed illegally by the two powers and their allies and lackeys, put its trust only in God. Thus, the faithful and brave Iranian youths, relying on God for liberation of their land and materializing the holy ideals of the Islamic Revolution, created a lasting epic in Iran’s history. The major part of Bayt-ul Moqaddas operation was carried out by the IRGC whose personnel, for the most part, were popular forces from all walks of life. Bayt-ul Moqaddas operational region, in terms of natural situation and building bridge on Karun River was in need of broad and special engineering work as compared with Fat’h al-Mobin operation.
One of the organs which played a very important role in the victory of every operation during the holy defense was Jahad-e Sazandegi or Construction Jihad. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, an organization was set up by the name of Jahad-e Sazandegi (Construction Jihad) to rush to assist the people of poor and deprived regions throughout the country. With the beginning of Saddam’s invasion and the need to machinery for erecting embankments, building roads and bridges, the Construction Jihad spread the domain of its activities and immediately dispatched a large part of its facilities to war regions. In the literature of holy defense, Construction Jihad forces were given the title of “Trenchless Builders of Trenches". A large number of the forces of this organization were martyred during eight years of the Holy Defense.
Since the outbreak of war, Construction Jihad made great efforts in Bayt-ul Moqaddas operation and took over the main responsibility in engineering activities. Of course, the engineering sections of the army and IRGC were also very active especially in the field of crossing and installation of the strategic bridge over Karun River. The combination of Construction Jihad, the army and the IRGC in engineering work and the need for their coordination among the three headquarters had formed a new combination of engineering structure. In Bayt-ul Moqaddas operation, the Construction Jihad, with nearly 100 engineering machineries and other auxiliary facilities had an active presence in the battlefield. In this operation, three combat engineering companies and an engineering group and a company of floating bridge and a GSP bridge company supported river crossing operation. Altogether, in this operation, the army had 63 engineering machineries and the IRGC had 60. The construction of 5 PMP bridges on Karun River was the responsibility of the Army's ground forces in the first night of the operation.
The important feature of Bayt-ul Moqaddas operation was crossing over Karun River and reaching the Iraqi forces across Ahwaz-Khorramshahr road. Three out ofthe 5 bridges which had been planned to be prepared in the first night of the operation were completed and ready for the brave combatants to crossover. As it was mentioned earlier, crossing Karun River was preferred to other tactics based on the principle of surprise. Evidence showed that the enemy was somewhat aware of the assault of the Iranian combatants before the start of the operation, but was bewildered at the time and tactics of the operation. In its examinations and evaluations, the Ba'athist enemy had expected that the Iranian combatants would stage operation from the northern axis. The Ba'athist army’s commanders had calculated crossing Karun River as a subsidiary attack limited to mere installation of a bridge. After the first phase of the operation, the enemy immediately embarked on a great counterattack with a new understanding of the axis of operation by the Iranian combatants.
Saddam told the forces prepared for counterattack: "All forces that lost their positions and fortification should get them back today or tonight; otherwise, they will stand trial in a revolutionary court." The Ba'athist enemy’s effort in counterattack was to push back Iran's forces to the back of the Ahwaz-Khorramshahr road and then cleanse the Sar-Pol area. Ahwaz-Khorramshahr road was the only place where the Iranian forces could be deployed behind it and repel the enemy’s counterattacks.
The Iranian forces, if retreated, would almost be unable to resist the Ba'athist enemy due to the lack of any other natural barrier. Saddam's army was shattered with the loss of the road, and in addition to threatening the 5th and 6th divisions, its forces in Khorramshahr were also exposed to the siege. Therefore, the fight for retaking Sar Pol region and Ahwaz-Khorramshahr road meant defeat or victory for Saddam's army. Indeed, it was tantamount to a game death and life for it, especially the commanders of the army. The Ba'athist enemy’s counterattack started by using the 10th armored brigade to dominate Ahwaz-Khorramshahr road. A severe war broke out.
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s combatants, in spite of efficient armored forces and adequate fire support, fought the tanks. In this battle, the Iraqi tanks managed to reach the road and seize part of it. The deployment of tanks on the road could translate into the collapse of Iran's only defense line and, with the breakup of the structure of units, the Iranian forces would have been forced to withdraw. This would imperil the entire liberated area in the west of Karun River. But the enemy's deployment on the road did not last. The unwavering steadfastness of the selfless youths paved the ground for smashing the Iraqi tanks and defeating the great counterattack of these forces.