The Iran-Iraq War was a war between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran lasting from September 1980 to August 1988. It was commonly called the Persian Gulf War until Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. The Iraq-Kuwait war, which the United States entered, later was called the Persian Gulf War or the Gulf War.
The war began when Iraq invaded Iran on 22 September 1980, after a long history of border disputes and demands for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. Iraqi forces did well at the beginning of the war, taking Iranian Khuzestan, but before long they were stopped and forced out of Iran. The war continued for years, and neither side gained much ground in the resulting trench warfare. About half a million soldiers died and a similar number of civilians. Both sides used blockade, which other countries opposed. Despite several calls for an end to the fighting by the United Nations Security Council, the two countries fought until 20 August 1988; the last prisoners of war were exchanged in 2003. The war changed politics in the Middle East and world wide.
The Iran-Iraq War is also noted for Iraq's use of chemical weapons and biological weapons against Iranian troops and civilians. The role of the United States and Soviet Union was very important, dating back to the Cold War. In 1953, the US encouraged a coup d'état against Mohammad Mosaddegh, who was the Prime Minister of Iran. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi returned to power, supporting his military and his government. The United States sold many weapons to the Shah's government. Meanwhile revolutionaries of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party overthrew the king of Iraq and, with the help of the Soviet Union, built up their army. Starting with the United Arab Republic, they sought to unite all the Arabs into one state, including the Arab minority in Iran.
After the war started, (especially between 1983 and 1988) the United States sold weapons to the Iraqis. This move was largely due to America's interest in containing the revolutionary Ayatollah Khomeini. Thus, both the Soviet Union and the United States supplied Iraq with weapons to use against Iran, and the Soviet Union also sold weapons to Iran.
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