NICOSIA, Cyprus — Iran thrust across the Shatt al-Arab waterway into Iraq on Friday for the second time in two weeks, but Iraq said it pushed the invaders back and killed thousands.
The Iranians said their troops seized a beachhead and continued to hold positions on the Iraqi side of the Shatt al-Arab, a fast-flowing channel that forms the southern border. An Iraqi attack across the Shatt in September, 1980, began the war.
Iranian communiques claimed that the assault force repulsed six counterattacks, killed or wounded 6,500 Iraqis and captured 500, shot down 12 warplanes and destroyed 38 tanks. The Iraqis admitted the loss of one fighter-bomber.
Baghdad radio conceded that the Iranians had established "footholds" on Iraqi territory, but later Iraqi communiques said the Iranians were pushed back after 16 hours with most of four Revolutionary Guards divisions wiped out. A division usually numbers 10,000 men.
Conflicting battle claims often are greatly exaggerated and cannot be reconciled. Neither side allows Western correspondents into battle areas except on occasional guided tours.