Glimpses of Epic of 8-Year Holy Defense (70)
Val-Fajr 8 operation was such a crushing defeat for Saddam regime that the Iraqi dictator took every step to recapture the regions seized by the brave Iranian combatants. The Ba'athist army even resorted to internationally banned chemical weapons to push back the Iranian forces.
During the 8-year war, the usage of chemical weapons was among the defensive tactics of Saddam's war machine to cover up the weak points of its ground forces against Iran's attacks.
After the liberation of Khorramshahr, the Iraqi army used this ploy against almost every Iranian operation. In Val-Fajr 2 operation – nearly three years before Val-Fajr 8, Iraq carried out its first effective chemical attack with mustard gas against the Iranian forces. In Val-Fajr 4 operation, more mustard gas was used and suspicious reports were received about the use of nerve and crippling substances. In Kheibar operation, mustard gas was used extensively in the first weeks, although a large percentage of bombs did not function due to defects in explosive systems. A few weeks later, two more smaller attacks were carried out with nerve gas which injured about 800 people leaving a few martyrs. A few weeks later, Iraq used a certain gas which was similar to the asphyxiant gas used in Kheibar operation. Yet this resulted in a smaller number of injured compared to those of the usage of mustard gas.
The important point is that till then, these banned gases had not been used together. To counter Iran's advancement and successes in Badr operation, Iraq first used nerve gas and then cyanide and eventually used them together resulting in more casualties so that at least two hundred forces suffered from coma, an ailment that would lead to martyrdom of the injured person if not healed on time.
During Val-Fajr 8 operation, chemical weapons were largely used, in view of Saddam's humiliating defeat and the strategic significance of the lost regions. The extent of the contaminated areas, the variety and continuity of usage of the substances in this operation were unprecedented during the war, causing high number of casualties on the Iranian side. In the first stage, almost 18 aircraft dropped chemical bombs and rockets on the area. So, within less than one hour, the number of the aircraft reached 32. They were flying together, and shortly after bombing, another group of fighter jets would enter the area. Thus, after a short time, the region was densely infected. Each aircraft carries six 250 kg bombs or four 500 kg bombs containing chemical gas. Information from a captured Iraqi pilot, who was engaged in two chemical raids, as well as an officer responsible for chemical weapons, revealed that the chemical-biological unit was very strong in Iraqi army, academic professors and experts worked on it, and a significant portion of toxic gases was produced inside Iraq with the help of foreign advisers.
With respect to security terms, special care was taken for the offensive units and even pilots did not know what kind of chemical bombs they were carrying. The Iraqi regime did not provide the pilots with even masks, anti-gas suits and relief cans. Saddam's regime used a variety of chemical weapons during the 8-year war but in Val-Fajr 8 operational region, almost every type of chemical weapon was used. The gases included mustard gas with the early side-effects of blister on the skin and deep burns. The second was nerve gas that affected the respiratory system. Cyanide was another constituent of chemical weapons. There was also a kind of asphyxiant gas that was not from the famous chlorine type or other known types. In addition, an unknown nerve agent that was used for the first time in Faw was named VX agent. It is likely that other toxins that did not have any military standard of chemical warfare or toxic impurities and chemical contaminants, were used along with the toxins. Therefore, various types of clinical symptoms were seen in the victims of these chemical attacks of the Iraqi army.
Since the various types of toxic agents were used simultaneously, there were both symptoms of poisoning with mustard, cyanide and nerve gas. At the time of the chemical attack, there was a mild breeze and the temperature was about 20° C, suitable for chemical attack. Meanwhile, part of the gassed area was covered by palm groves. In these areas, in addition to palm trees, the ground is covered by grass and plants. These factors played a major role in the long-term chemical stability of the region. Since some of these toxins, especially mustard gas, evaporate very soon, the Baathist enemy constantly shelled the area to keep the contamination of the area. Moreover, there were reports noting that the Iraqi Ba'athist army also used helicopters to infect the region. Gas diffusion method was also used by aircraft. Another point is that the chemical shelling was mainly carried out at night to affect more troops.
Although the enemy expanded chemical bombardments throughout the operational region and surrounding areas, it achieved the highest success in the palm groves due to the reasons already discussed. Therefore, Saddam's invading army was able to impede the advancement of Iran's forces in a short time due to being affected by chemical weapons. Comparing the number of the forces injured by chemical weapons and those injured by conventional weapons, it was quite clear that a chemical attack was much effective in injuring the combatants and also contaminating the surrounding areas. Taking into consideration the hospitals near the fronts would accommodate up to 13000, injured the number of the gassed casualties filled a significant part of the hospitals in the first days of Val-Fajr 8 operation. With two widespread chemical attacks in three days, more than 9000 chemical injured were transferred to the back. The Iraqi Ba'athist army, in spite of taking various measures to recapture the Faw Peninsula, after 75 days of tough fighting with the brave Iranian combatants admitted defeat and just consolidated its defense lines.