Iraqi troops pounded the Iranian oil centre of Abadan on Monday (13 October) as ground forces appeared to tighten the noose around the beleaguered city, the site of the Middle East's largest oil refinery.
GV PAN Karun River with troop carriers crossing
GV PAN Troops and armoured vehicles waiting to cross
SV PAN Tank being driven onto barge
GV Armoured vehicle being transported cross river
CU Iraqi flag, smoke from Abadan oil fire
GV Troops and military vehicles crossing river 93 shots
GV Abadan smoke in distance, as more troops cross river (2 shots)
GV Tank through empty streets of Mehran (3 shots)
GV PAN Demolished houses in Mehran (5 shots)
SV Pair of shoes and sack left behind
GV PAN More demolished buildings
TS Iraqi soldiers in jeep driving along road
SV Soldiers in front line
GV Iranian aircraft swooping in over troops
GV PAN Troops running for guns and starting to fire (2 shots)
CU ZOOM OUT Gunner firing (2 shots)
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Background: Iraqi troops pounded the Iranian oil centre of Abadan on Monday (13 October) as ground forces appeared to tighten the noose around the beleaguered city, the site of the Middle East's largest oil refinery. The push towards Abadan gathered momentum over the weekend after troops and armoured vehicles crossed the strategic Karun River, a natural barrier between Abadan and Khorramshahr.
SYNOPSIS: Abadan has been a leading target in the Iraqi campaign, almost from the start of the Gulf war, more than three weeks ago. Once the town of Khorramshahr had finally fallen to the Iraqis they were able to face the next biggest obstacle, Abadan, across the Karun River.
The vital crossing began on Saturday (11 October) with troops and tanks using pontoon bridges under air cover. They were able to cut the road and oil pipeline that joins Abadana and Ahvaz to the north. Then a large area across the Karun was reported to have been cleared by heavy Iraqi shelling, paving the way for the troops to cross in boats and barges, on Sunday (12 October).
As the fighting continued on Monday (13 October), Iran told the United Nations it would give safe passage to foreign ships caught in the Shatt-Al-Arab waterway between the warring countries.
President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr said his forces would allow ships to leave under the United Nations flag if Iraq also guaranteed their safety, and they did not unload their cargoes at other ports. U. N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim appealed last Friday (10 October) for the release of about 200 vessels trapped in the Gulf. Control of the disputed waterway remains unresolved. And the slow but determined push of the Iraqis towards Iranian oil centres appears to be a plan to force the Iranians to the negotiating table.
And farther north, the town of Mehran, in Kermanshah province, was demolished and captured over the weekend. What was once a bustling little Iranian market town only a mile (kilometre) or so from the border, is now empty after one of the most devastating bombardments of this war. The 10,000 inhabitants fled or were killed while the town was being destroyed.
In the town centre, hardly a building has been left standing. It's the result of a 48-hour blitz in which Iraqi jets dropped their bombs, and artillery guns pumped thousands of shells into Mehran. A week ago, Iranian President Bani-Sadr said Iraqi claims to have captured the town were a joke. It was, he said, still under Iranian control. But now Mehran is not even a town worth defending. The once elegant houses are now only a pile of debris. Many civilians died in the attack and the sign of panic to escape are everywhere to be seen.
The Iraqis say they don't know how many people were killed, the bodies that littered the streets having been removed. But ironically the real target was not the town. The military objective was along this desert road, just outside Mehran towards the mountains, where the retreating Iranians still fight on.
While cameramen filmed an air attack came without warning. An Iranian jet screamed in low over the Iraqi positions. By the time the anti-aircraft batteries opened up, there was no visible sign of the plane.
Although the plane was seen turning in the distance, with no Sam-7 heat seeking missiles to fire in pursuit of the aircraft, the gunners kept shooting as they awaited orders from Baghdad to continue advancing.