Iran Claims Gains, Iraqi Planes Raid Six Cities
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iran said Friday that its troops seized Iraqi positions east of Basra and killed or wounded 2,000 soldiers. Iraq reported air raids on six Iranian cities.
Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency said Iranian forces ambushed Iraqi troops on the west bank of Fish Lake, a huge artificial lake just west of the frontier. Iran sent an invasion force across the flooded marshland Jan. 9.
It said 2,000 casualties inflicted in battles that began late Thursday included members of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s personal guard. Iran says it will continue the war, which began in September 1980, until Hussein is driven from office.
Iraq also reported heavy fighting in the area but said its forces repulsed the Iranians, inflicting ″massive″ losses in men and equipment.
″Several enemy groups attempting to approach Iraqi units in this sector were almost wiped out, with the remainder fleeing,″ the official Iraqi News Agency reported.
Iran confirmed reports that Iraqi planes raided Bakhtaran, Dezful, Arab, Khorramabad, Arak and the holy city of Qom. It said scores of civilians were killed or wounded.
Military communiques issued in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, said the raids were in retaliation for ″the Iranian regime’s insistence on shelling Iraqi residential areas and aggression on Iraqi borders and soil.″
Dispatches from Iran’s news agency said Iranian planes bombed military and industrial centers at Suleymanieh in northeastern Iraq, inflicting substantial casualties, and artillery shelled military and economic targets in border cities of northern and eastern Iraq.
Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of Iran’s Parliament, claimed at a Friday prayer service that Iranian forces were less than 1 1/2 miles from the suburbs of Basra, Iraq’s southern capital and second-largest city.