Operation Dawn 2

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Operation Dawn 2
Part of Iran–Iraq War – the Northern Front
DateJuly 22, 1983 – ? 1983

Decisive Iranian victory

  • Tactical Iraqi failure
  • Iraqi counter-attack fails
Iran captures strategic Haj Omran highlands
 Iraq  Iran
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)
Commanders and leaders
Iran Hujjat-ul-Islam Mostafa Raddanipoor  (commander of 14th Imam Hossein Division)
Iran Mahmoud Kaveh (commander of 155th Shohada Special Brigade)
Massoud Barzani
See #Order of battle for more
Units involved
See #Order of battle See #Order of battle
24 infantry battalions
4 commando and special forces battalions
4 border guard battalions[1]
16 infantry battalions
6 infantry battalions
1 mechanized battalion
1,500 militiamen[2]
Casualties and losses
4,000+ killed or wounded
164 captured
50 military outposts destroyed or captured
5 aircraft
9 helicopters
40 tanks and APCs
45 vehicles
several heavy/semi-heavy weapons
20 tanks and APCs
12 artillery pieces (122 mm)
dozens of M40 recoilless rifles
50 vehicles
several engineering vehicles[3][1]
284 killed
487 wounded
134 captured or missing[4]

Operation Dawn 2 or Operation Valfajr-2 (Persian: عملیات والفجر 2‎) was an Iranian operation during the eight-year-long Iran–Iraq War. This operation opened a new front in northern Iraq/Iraqi Kurdistan also known as "the Northern Front". Despite Turkish help, this region was Iraq's weak point during the war as the Kurds sided with Iran.[5]


In the year leading up to the operation, fighting between Iraqi and Iranian forces drew to a stalemate on the southern front. Iranian forces repeatedly used human wave attacks in the southern marshlands and deserts, only to be repulsed by forces of the Iraqi Third Corps. However, the Iranian government managed to win favor of the Kurdish people in parts of northern Iraq, thus allowing the opportunity to take the war north.

The main objective of the mission was the frontier town of Haj Omran, which was nestled on the border and surrounded by mountainous terrain. Rebels of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq would prove a great asset to the advancing Iranians, given their knowledge of the terrain and the people.

The battle

On July 22, Iranian forces advanced from Piranshahr and were highly successful against the Iraqis, effectively seizing Haj Omran in the process. The Iranians and Kurdish guerrillas made use of elevated ridges to launch ambushes on Iraqi positions and convoys. In all, they seized roughly 150 square miles (390 km2) of Iraqi territory.

Iraq responded with counteroffensive, launching an airborne assault and employing the use of poison gas for the first time in the entire war. The Iraqis hit Iranian troops on mountain tops near Haj Omran with mustard gas while their troops advanced in the slopes. The Iraqis were unfamiliar with the properties of poison gas and the agent descended back down to the exposed Iraqi troops.[5] At the same time, the rugged terrain held up Iraqi tanks. The use of helicopter gunships was also hampered, since the Iranian and Kurdish fighters had better cover.

These were the deciding factors that contributed to Iraq's loss of the battle.

Order of battle


Malik Ashtar Command

Source: [8]

Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)
  • 91st Infantry Brigade
  • 98th Infantry Brigade
  • 66th Infantry Brigade
  • 1 tank battalion
  • 31st Special Forces Brigade
    • 2nd Battalion
  • Tariq Commando Battalion
  • Ta'im Commando Battalion


  • The Longest War, by Dilip Hiro, Routledge, Chapman, and Hall, Inc., NY, 1991.
  • The Iran-Iraq War: Chaos in a Vacuum, by Stephen Pelletiere, Praeger Publishers, New York, NY, 1992.

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