I have never seen Khorramshahr, but my parents used to call it the Bride of the Iranian cities. Perhaps because they spent their honeymoon there. I have seen khoramshahr through black and white pictures of my parents: Palm trees, row boats ... must have been green.
Wikipedia describes the Battle for Khorramshahr as this:
During the Iran-Iraq War Khoramshahr was extensively ravaged by Iraqi forces as a result of Saddam Hussein's [breaking the] scorched earth policy. Prior to the war, Khorramshahr had grown extensively to become one of the world's major port cities, and home to some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Iran. The population was predominantly wealthy and upper class, and along with Abadan, the prevalent culture was that of modern Iranian cosmopolitanism.
As the Iraqis drew near at the beginning of the war, the Iranian Army evacuated much of the city. In the defense of Khorramshahr, the Iranians prepared a series of dykes on the outskirts of the city, the first dyke holding regular soldiers and the second dyke holding tanks, artillery, and anti-tank weapons. Personnel wise, the Iranian Regular Army was responsible for the city’s external defenses and the Pasdaran (i.e. The Revolutionary Guards) were responsible for the center.
The Iraqi objectives were to occupy the city outskirts, the Dej Barracks in the north, and the port in the south. In the first days of the fighting, beginning on September 30th (1981), the Iraqis cleared the dykes and captured the area around the city, cutting it off from both Abadan and the rest of the Khuzestan province. The first two attempts to enter the city, launched by an armored division and Special Forces, were met with heavy losses for the Iraqi forces. In response, the Iraqis planned on sending in additional commando units with armor providing backup. Iraqi Special Forces and Commando units took the port whilst Iraqi armored brigades took Dej, both before moving into the suburbs.
It was in the suburbs that the Iraqi attack stalled when they encountered Iranian Pasdaran and Chieftain tanks. Local counterattacks by tank-infantry teams turned back the Iraqi forces at several points. The sheer weight of the Iraqi tank force settled the issue in their favor, but when Iranian armor was encountered on the defense, it stopped attacks cold. Only repeated combined arms assaults broke the ability of the Chieftains to dominate the open areas within the suburban battle space.
As the fighting moved toward the city center, armor operations were reduced to a supporting role, since the tanks couldn’t fire as effectively through the tight and narrow streets. The Iraqis tended to attack at night to advance troops and gain surprise, and place observation points on tall buildings. The Iranians would often move in snipers at night, which also bogged the battle down for the invading Iraqis. [...]
The final objectives towards the end of the battle were the Government building where the Iranian headquarters was located, as well as the nearby bridge connecting the road from Khorramshahr to Abadan. Fighting for possession of the bridge took 48 hours. The last Iraqi attack started at dawn on 24 October and lasted five hours. The city was cleared by 26 October.
The city practically became a ghost town afterward with the exception of the Iraqi army occupants. During the occupation, the Iraqi soldiers looted goods from the Iranian ports and had them transferred to Basra. According to other claims, soldiers raped several Iranian women in the city as well. Due to both the strategically high loss of men and the harsh weather following the battle, the Iraqis were unable to conduct any further offensives against Iran.
The city remained in Iraqi hands until April of 1982, when the Iranians launched Operation Jerusalem to recapture the Khuzestan province. The first attack (April 24 to May 12) consisted of 70,000 Pasdaran and succeeded in pushing the Iraqis out of the Ahvaz-Susangerd area. The Iraqis withdrew back to Khorramshahr and, on May 20th, launched a counter attack against the Iranians, which was repulsed. The Iranians then launched an all out assault on Khorramshahr, capturing two of the defense lines in the Pol-e No and Shalamcheh region. The Iranians gathered around the Shatt al-Arab waterway, surrounding the city and, thus, beginning the second siege. The Iranians finally recaptured the city on May 24th after two days of bitter fighting, capturing 19,000 soldiers from a demoralized Iraqi Army after the fighting was over. [...]
I remember that year I had sent a gift to the frontline. I don't recall the gift, but I remember the card: a Gold background and a white swan. I don't remember what I had written; must have been something like "Happy new year soldier; thank you for defending me; I feel safe in school; and I watch you on TV all the time, fighting in those dry harsh ditches" I don't really know I am imagining. But I also remember the soldier who received my card wrote back to me. What a non-romantic fool I was; I should have kept the letter. I wonder if he lived ... or if he was in one of those many coffins that our school made us follow to the graveyard, as a sign of respect for our soldiers ...
Sad war ... sad sad sad war ... but if they come again, this time the paper tiger himself, I will keep the letter I receive from the soldiers ... who knows, maybe I will be a soldier myself.
but I HATE war ...