TEHRAN – Thousands of mourners gathered in Iran’s capital Tehran on Thursday to receive a truckload of coffins carrying the remains of army soldiers who lost their lives in the brutal Iran-Iraq war that raged between the neighboring nations for eight years in the 1980s.
Some 130 bodies recently discovered in Iraqi territory were returned to Tehran, according to Iranian media.
Men and women – many of whom were clad in black chadors – touched the flag-draped caskets and held onto the truck as it made its way through the Tehran street.
The Iran-Iraq war began on Aug. 20, 1980 when Iraqi armed forces, under the orders of Saddam Hussein, invaded southwestern Iran in a land grab that sought to exploit Iran’s fragile institutions and disorganized army in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Although heavily outnumbered in terms of personnel and machinery, Iran pushed Iraqi forces back across the border and in 1982 rejected a peace deal and invaded Iraq.
The bloody conflict claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, including poorly-equipped Iranian children sent into the theater of war in human waves to clear minefields and overwhelm Iraqi positions.
It ended with a United Nations-brokered ceasefire in 1988 but the legacy of the war and its fallen, who are exalted as martyrs in Iran, have a strong presence in Iranian politics.