Iraq Claims Iran Offensive in Central Sector Smashed
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iraq said its troops on Friday crushed a new Iranian offensive in the hilly central sector of the 730-mile war front, killing or wounding 1,500 Iranians.
Iran disputed that account, and claimed its forces captured a strategic road east of the Iraq’s southen port city of Basra.
Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency also said 8,300 Iraqis had been killed or wounded since the latest offensive against Basra began Tuesday.
The Iraqi general command, in its first statement on the Iranian thrust in the central zone, said a predawn counterattack dislodged the invaders from a foothold they had gained inside Iraq. Iran had said Thursday that Iranian troops seized seven square miles of Iraqi territory in the area, 110 miles northeast of Baghdad.
Iraq’s official Iraqi News Agency quoted the general command as saying scores of Iranian soldiers were captured in the counterattack.
In a later report, Iran’s Tehran radio said Iranian troops on Friday afternoon encircled and defeated the Iraqi troops who had staged the counterattack and ″countless″ Iraqis were killed.
The radio report was monitored in England and the accounts from the Iranian news agecy and the Iraqi News Agency were monitored in Nicosia.
Battle reports from the two nations can rarely be checked because independent reporters are barred from the battle zones.
Iraq gave a conflicting version of the fighting in the southern sector east of Basra.
Iraq’s news agency quoted the commander of an Iraqi army unit on the Basra front as saying successive human waves of Iranian fighters were annihilated by Iraqi forces. It did not identify the commander.
The agency quoted its own war correspondent as saying Iranian losses on the southern front since Tuesday exceeded 7,000 dead and their corpses littered the battlefield.
Iraq also claimed its forces shot down four Iranian warplanes during the day, while Iran claimed it downed Iraqi warplanes. Neither side commented on the other’s claim.