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Iran Reports Seizing Iraqi Radar Platform in Gulf

September 03, 1986|Associated Press

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Iran reported Tuesday that a unit of its marines, led by frogmen, seized an Iraqi radar platform in the Persian Gulf that directed air raids on oil tankers.

Iran also said its forces killed 700 Iraqis in a land offensive, in the mountainous Haj Omran sector at the northern tip of the 730-mile-long war front, but Iraq maintained that its forces repulsed the Iranian drive.

Iraq, in a statement issued without elaboration late Tuesday, said its troops killed 3,000 Iranian soldiers while crushing the border offensive.

But the failure of Iraq's military spokesmen to contend that the Iranians were driven off the radar platform with heavy casualties, which they customarily do, indicated that the site had been taken.

In referring to the gulf fighting, the Iraqis said only that their warplanes sank 32 Iranian boats and killed an undetermined number of crewmen off the Al Amik radar platform.

According to the Iranian agency, the seizure of Al Amik gives Iran surface and air control of the northern Persian Gulf.

Iraq pumped 1 million barrels of oil a day through the platform before the war began. The site was transformed into a missile-defended radar base that directed air strikes against tankers carrying the oil exports with which Iran finances its war effort.

In the northern border fighting, Iraq said that its planes conducted 176 air attacks, inflicting heavy losses on Iranian troops, and that one Iraqi warplane was shot down.

"We hold the Iranian side responsible for the safety of its pilot," said the statement, which was monitored in Nicosia, Cyprus.

As usual, the conflicting claims could not be reconciled because neither side allows foreign journalists into battle areas except on rare guided tours.

The two-pronged Iranian thrust could be designed to stretch Iraq's defenses before Iran's long-heralded "final offensive" intended to end the six-year-old war.

Military analysts believe that Iran's big push, when it comes, will be concentrated in the desert flatlands of the central and southern sectors of the border and will involve an effort to cut off Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

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