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Iran War
Map of the location of the war.

Date Aug. 10, 2015 - ?, 2017 (2 years)
Location Iran, Persian Gulf, (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Azerbaijan)
  • Reopening of the Hormuz Strait
  • Invasion of Iran and bombing of important sites
  • Fall of the Assad regime in Syria
  • Independence of Al-Ahwaz
  • Azerbaijani coup d'état
  • Division of Iraq
  • Independence of Luristan
  • Fall of South Iraq
  • Independence of Iranian Kurdistan and South Azerbaijan
  • Liberation of Azerbaijan
  • Independence of Turkmen Sahra
  • independence of Baluchistan
  • Overthrow of President Ghalibaf and formation of a transitional government
  • Ongoing anti-coalitional insurgency
  • Democratization and Westernization of Iran
  • New power balance in the Middle East
  • Flag of NATO.png NATO
    • Flag of the United States.svg United States
    • Flag of Canada.svg Canada
    • Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
    • Flag of France.svg France
    • Flag of Germany.svg Germany
    • Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark
    • Flag of Poland.svg Poland
    • Flag of Ukraine.svg Ukraine
    • Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey
    • and others
  • Flag of the Arab League.png Arab League
    • Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg Saudi Arabia
    • Flag of Qatar.png Qatar
    • Flag of Bahrain.png Bahrain
    • Flag of Egypt.svg Egypt
    • Flag of Morocco.png Morocco
    • and others
  • Flag of Australia.svg Australia
  • Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand
  • Flag of Israel.svg Israel
  • Flag of Japan.svg Japan
  • Flag of South Korea.svg South Korea
  • Flag of Pakistan.svg Pakistan
  • Pro-coalition groups
    • Free Syrian Army
    • Ba'athists (Iraq)
    • Northern Iraqi Army
    • Peshmerga
    • Free Iranian Army
    • Iranian separatist groups
  • and others

Later coalition members

  • Syria.png (Free) Syria (Aug. 20 -)
  • Flag of Al-Ahwaz.png Al-Ahwaz (Aug. 28 -)
  • Flag of Azerbaijan.svg Azerbaijan in-exile (Aug. 29 - Oct. 31)
  • Flag of Armenia.svg Armenia (Aug. 30 -)
  • Flag of Georgia.svg Georgia (Aug. 30 -)
  • File:Flag of Philippines.svg Philippines (Sep. 18 -)
  • Flag of Thailand.svg Thailand (Sep. 18 -)
  • Flag of Malaysia.png Malaysia (Sep. 18 -)
  • Flag of Indonesia.png Indonesia (Sep. 18 -)
  • Flag of India.svg India (Sep. 18 -)
  • Flag of Kenya.png Kenya (Sep. 18 -)
  • Flag of Ethiopia.png Ethiopia (Sep. 18 -)
  • Flag of Iraq.svg (North) Iraq (Sep. 23 -)
  • Flag of Kurdistan.png Iraqi Kurdistan (Sep. 23 -)
  • Flag of Luristan.png Luristan (Oct. 8 -)
  • Flag of Kurdistan.png Iranian Kurdistan (Oct. 24 -)
  • Flag of South Azerbaijan2.png South Azerbaijan (Nov. 6 -)
  • Flag of Azerbaijan.svg Azerbaijan (Nov. 9 -)
  • Flag of Turkmen Sahra.png Turkmen Sahra (Dec. 9 -)
  • Flag of Baluchistan.png West Baluchistan (Jan. 22 -)

Logistical support only

  • Flag of Spain.svg Spain
  • Flag of Italy.svg Italy
  • Flag of Afghanistan.svg Afghanistan
  • Flag of Philippines.png Philippines (- Sep. 18)
  • Flag of Thailand.svg Thailand (- Sep. 18)
  • Flag of Malaysia.png Malaysia (- Sep. 18)
  • Flag of Kenya.png Kenya (- Sep. 18)
  • Flag of Ethiopia.png Ethiopia (- Sep. 18)
  • and others

Diplomatic support only

  • Flag of Europe.svg European Union
  • and others
Iran and allies
  • Flag of Iran.svg Iran
    • Islamic Republic of Iran Army
    • Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution
  • Flag of Syria.png Syria (- Aug. 18)
  • Flag of Iraq.png Iraq (- Sep. 19)
  • Pro-Iran groups
    • Hezbollah
    • Houthis
    • New Mahdi Army
    • Ba'athists (Syria)
    • Islamic Party of Azerbaijan
    • Hamas
    • Local anti-coalition militias
    • and others...

Later supporters

  • Flag of Azerbaijan.png (Islamic) Azerbaijan (Aug. 29 - Nov. 9)
  • Shia Iraq flag.png South Iraq (Sep. 23 - Oct. 17)

Logistical support only

  • Flag of Russia.png Russia (- Sep. 21)
  • Flag of Kazakhstan.png Kazakhstan (- Sep. 21)
  • Flag of Sudan.png Sudan
  • Flag of North Korea.png North Korea
  • Flag of Cuba.png Cuba
  • Flag of Venezuela.png Venezuela

Opposition to intervention only

  • Flag of China.png China
  • Flag of Belarus.png Belarus
  • Flag of Bolivia.png Bolivia
  • Flag of Russia.png Russia (Sep. 21 -)
  • Flag of Kazakhstan.png Kazakhstan (Sep. 21 -)
  • and others...

Third parties

  • Al Qaeda
    • Al-Nusrah Front
    • Ansar al-Islam
  • Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
  • Free Iraqi Army
  • Jundallah
  • and others...

The Iran War, also known as the Second Persian Gulf War or the Hormuz War, was a conflict that occurred mainly in Iran, officially lasting from August 3, 2015 to ?, 2017. It consisted of two main phases: an invasion of Iran starting on August 14, preceded by the reopening of the Hormuz Strait on August 10, and a longer period of fighting, in which an anti-coalition insurgency occurred. It started mainly as a result of the coup d'etát against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Iranian blockade of the important Hormuz Strait, which caused a US-led coalition to intervene. The war ended with a coalition victory and the occupation of Iran.


Earlier history of Iran (1941-2003)

Pre-Islamic era

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi

Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran, the United States and other Western nations were allies. This alliance had begun following World War 2, in which an Anglo-Soviet coalition toppled the alleged pro-Axis Shah. Iran remained a monarchy, now under the rule of the Shah’s son, and Iran moved towards the West. Imposing a series of pro-Western reforms, the Shah became increasingly unpopular among Islamists and nationalists. The situation culminated in 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini led the Islamic Revolution, turning Iran into an Islamic Republic. Following the Iranian Hostage Crisis, in which US Embassy personnel was held hostage for more than a year, the relations between Iran and the West were ruptured.

Islamic era

Iranian soldier with gas mask in the Iran-Iraq War

In 1980, Iraq, under the rule of Saddam Hussein, invaded Iran after years of border disputes, and they were financially backed by the West. Following the war, Iran’s president focused on rebuilding the economy and infrastructure. During the Persian Gulf War, in which Iraq invaded Kuwait and became an enemy of the West, Iran limited its action to condemnation of the US.

In the late 90's and early 00's, tensions began between conservative and reformist politicians, and they continued as the government became increasingly Islamic. During this time, Iran's position in the Middle East was strengthened as a result of the US invasion of Iraq, overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime and empowerment of its Shia majority. Iran, from this point, started to gain influence in Iraq.

Later history of Iran (2003-2014)

Nuclear program and the Hormuz Crisis

In the mid-00's, the West became increasingly concerned over Iran's nuclear energy program, which they feared could lead to the acquiring of nuclear weapons. Thus, the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and others imposed sanctions on Iran, including restrictions on cooperation, oil-, economic- and weapon embargoes and travel bans.

The Hormuz Strait

In 2011, the West further restricted its sanctions against Iran, which responded by attacking the British Embassy in Tehran and shooting down an American drone. At the end of 2011, Iran threatened the whole world: If the sanctions were restricted any further, Iran would shut down the Hormuz Strait. A strait that links the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean and is the passing point of almost a third of all oil shipped worldwide. Shutting down the strait would be disastrous for the world economy, causing oil prices to skyrocket and perhaps even an energy crisis. The United States warned, that if the strait was shut down, the US Fifth Fleet was ready to attack, a reaction that was supported by nations across the globe. Both Iran and the US made military exercises during the crisis.

Syrian Civil War

During this time, the Syrian Civil War, which had started as a rebellion against President Assad, took place, and the West strongly condemned the regime, considering an intervention similar to what had been done in Libya only months earlier. The West and Arab nations started arming the Syrian rebel groups, while Iran was revealed to have troops inside the country supporting Assad's forces. As the West found out that large fractions of the Syrian rebels were al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, their support to the rebels was limited to arming the secular Free Syrian Army. This also meant the Syrian rebels started to fight internally.

Explosion in Syria

In mid-2013, an intervention was closer than ever before as it was revealed that numerous chemical attacks had taken place in Syria. The United States directly threatened to bomb Syria and the West was prepared to intervene without approval from the UN, and especially Turkey pushed for intervention as Syrian missiles had crossed their border many times. Russia and China strongly opposed intervention, despite great concerns over the potential blockade. Iran, having Syria as an important ally, threatened to retaliate any Western actions in the country, and threats flew back and forth between the different nations. In the end, no intervention took place. Instead, it was agreed that Assad had half a year to destroy all chemical weapons with Western help, but the civil war continued nonetheless.

Iranian nuclear agreement

Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran

In June 2013, Hassan Rouhani won the election against Mohammad Ghalibaf and became the new president of Iran. He was much more moderate than his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Under Rouhani's rule, the US and Iran finally reached an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, while the US promised to lift some of its sanctions, which had seriously damaged the Iranian economy. This more or less calmed the relations between the US and Iran, who generally moved closer together under Rouhani's presidency, but it led to internal political disputes within Iran. Moderate Islamists and reformists supported Rouhani, whereas conservative and Islamic hardliners opposed his approach to the West. Parts of the opposition went as far as accusing Rouhani of having made a secret agreement with the US and EU.

2014 Iraqi insurgency

In mid-2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Sunnite terror cell active in the Syrian Civil War, overtook cities across northern and western Iraq, seeking to establish a Caliphate with Sharia law. Allegedly, they fought alongside secular Ba'athists, supporters of former president Saddam Hussein, who, however, had a different goal. The insurgency caught worldwide attention as Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, fell to ISIL and its supporters, causing more than half a million people to flee the city. The Iraqi Army had failed to hold onto Mosul and other cities due to a low morale, and ISIL and its supporters rushed forward, declaring their next target to be Baghdad. However, the Iraqi Army was more committed to defend Baghdad due to it being their capital, and they captured several cities north of Baghdad. Further north Kurdish troops managed to take back several cities from ISIL and its supporters, and Shi'ite rebels soon arrived to fight the group. Furthermore, the US and Iran started discussing a potential intervention in the country, not ruling out collaboration between the two. On June 29, ISIL renamed itself to the Islamic State and declared the creation of a caliphate under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. At this point, the Islamic State and the Ba'athists split apart and started fighting internally. Responding to the threat, the US and other Western countries entered a partnership of convenience with Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Prelude to war (2015)

2. Iraqi Civil War

Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq

On April 17, 2015, as a result of the insurgency started by ISIL the year before, a multi-ethnoreligious civil war broke out in Iraq. The Sunnites felt both persecuted and abandoned by the Shi'ite government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and now they demanded its resigning. The more secular and moderate Sunnites were brutally struck down on, something that was condemned by the West, but the extremists, once again led by ISIL, managed to expand their areas of control. Secular Sunnites, Ba'athists and defected fractions of the Iraqi Army established the Northern Iraqi Army, which would fight both Islamic terrorists and the government, and so would other Ba'athist fractions. At the same time, the Kurds sought further autonomy or even independence from Iraq, but they were denied this by the government. 

Initially, the West was on the side of Iraq in the fight against Islamic terrorists, but with the increasing opppression by Maliki's regime, it broke off all ties with Iraq and started arming the Northern Iraqi Army. The Iraqi government felt betrayed by the US and called for Iran to help. In Iran, conservative and Islamist hardliners pushed for the government to send troops into the countries to assist al-Maliki's government and protect the Shi'ite population, but President Rouhani only condemned the development.

Syrian Civil War

Maher al-Assad, President of Syria

On May 5, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was assassinated by members of the al-Nusrah Front, causing great instability in the country. Bashar al-Assad's brother, Maher al-Assad, general and commander of the Republican Guard and the 4th Armored Division, took power immediately after the assassination and turned Syria into a military junta. He was considered the second most powerful man in Syria before his brother's death, and he is thought to have ordered the chemical attacks that put the US at the brink of war two years earlier.

As Maher al-Assad refused to remove the remaining chemical weapons and intensified the battle against the rebels, using even harsher methods than his brother, the West once again considered a military intervention. Meanwhile, the Syrian rebels became further divided internally, and sectarian violence between different ethnic and religious groups became increasingly common. This was caused mainly by the increasing influence of al Qaeda and affiliated groups, whom the Free Syrian Army, and the West, opposed. Inevitably, Lebanon also became involved in the civil war, and Hezbollah actively assisted Maher al-Assad's regime.

Saudi troops in Syria

On May 25, a US-led coalition initiated a bombing campaign in Syria, targeting military installations and vehicles, government buildings, chemical weapons sites and more, while further arming the Free Syrian Army. Saudi Arabia and Qatar offered to send troops into Syria to assist the Free Syrian Army against the regime and its allies. The offer that was accepted on the condition that the troops also targeted al Qaeda-affiliated groups, whom Saudi Arabia and Qatar had previously supported.

Russia and China expressed serious concerns over the campaign, while Iran limited its actions to the condemnation of the West and its allies, thus not living up to its earlier promise of intervening. This led to further distrust to President Rouhani among conservative and Islamist hardliners, and they demanded him to stand up for Iranian interests in Syria and Iraq, which they believed he failed to.

Coup d'etát against President Rouhani

President Rouhani being taken away

On June 22, conservative and Islamist hardliners within the government, military, clergy, opposition and parts of the population organized a coup d'état against President Hassan Rouhani. With large parts of the military involved in the coup, Rouhani couldn't do much to stop the coup and ensure his position as President. Ayatollah and commander in-chief of the Armed Forces Ali Khamenei, after being convinced by the rest of the clergy and military, expressed support for the coup, finally criticizing Rouhani's passive foreign policy.

Upon overthrowing the government, the military arrested Rouhani and several of his supporters, and temporarily took power. The coup resulted in protests by the supporters of Rouhani, reformists and liberalists, these being cracked down on by the military.

Mohammad Ghalibaf, President of Iran

On June 25, Mohammad Ghalibaf, member of the Islamic Society of Engineers, Mayor of Tehran, and former serviceman and commander in the military, became the leader of a new, more conservative Iranian government. Ghalibaf's government continued the crack down on Rouhani's supporters, and declared the deal with the US invalid, restarting the nuclear program. The new government generally increased military spending: continuing the development of laser deflection technology; increasing the size and capabilities of the military; making several military exercises; increasing the funding of various extremist groups; and supplying Iraq and Syria with weapons.

As an immediate reaction to the coup, the Western countries re-imposed and further strengthened its sanctions on Iran. President Obama warned the new Iranian government that its actions may have further consequences, and prepared a military build-up in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Russia and China expressed concern over the events in Iran, but nevertheless, supported the regime. Days after the coup, the Free Iranian Army emerged, consisting of Rouhani's supporters, secularists and fractions of the military. The group's self-declared goal was to restore Rouhani as president of Iran and limit the authority of the clergy, with some members even calling for its abolition.

Tensions rise

Iranian troops preparing to enter Syria and Iraq

Tensions further rose on July 10 as Iran deployed troops to Syria and Iraq to assist the Shi'ite governments. This was strongly condemned by the West, its allies and the UN. In Syria, the Free Syrian Army, assisted by Saudi and Qatari troops and Western jets, had gained control of large areas, mainly in the north, and Maher al-Assad's regime was severely weakened. In early July, Saudi and Iranian troops clashed at a battle in a city in eastern Syria, leaving 21 dead and catching worldwide attention. Meanwhile, the West had launched a bombing campaign in Iraq as well, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar once again sent in ground forces. The Iraqi coalition aligned itself with the newly-formed Northern Iraqi Army, Ba'athists and Kurdish troops, and fought both the governments and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups. As opposed the Free Iraqi Army, which was Sunni Islamist, the Northern Iraqi Army was secular, similarly to the Free Syrian Army, and so were the Ba'athists.

USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf

On July 25, Iran, as a reaction to the actions of the West, once again threatened to close the important Hormuz Strait, thus starting a 2. Hormuz Crisis. Oil prices had already started to rise due to previous events, but now they rose even further. The US and other Western countries had already sent battleships and aircraft carriers towards the Persian Gulf and nearby waters, but now they prepared for the worst. The US Congress was quick to enact a resolution, authorizing President Obama to "use any necessary means", including land troops, against Iran if the threat was made real. Russia and China, receiving most of their oil through the Hormuz Strait, were highly concerned of the situation, and they urged all the conflict's participants to negotiate in order to keep the region stabile.

In the morning of Thursday, August 6, the news of Iran laying mines in and near the Hormuz Strait hit the world. Ghalibaf's government demanded that the "Western imperialists" ceased all efforts in Syria and Iraq, and that sanctions were removed. The US responded the same day, saying that if the blockade wasn't lifted before Monday, the US Navy would open the strait themselves. Many countries supported the US in its reaction, these including most of the NATO, Israel, the Arab League, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Pakistan, thus ensuring the formation of a coalition if Iran refused to remove the blockade.

Anti-war protests in the US.

Spain, Italy, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Kenya and Ethiopia announced that they, in the event of an intervention, would be open to offer logistical support to the coalition and allow to use their territory. On the other hand, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and North Korea, declared their support to Iran, however not going in detail with reactions to a potential intervention. Russia and China urged both sides not to escalate the crisis any further.

The tense situation led to anti-war protests across the globe, using  slogans such as "STOP THE WAR ON IRAN BEFORE IT STARTS" . In Bahrain, a Shia-majority country with a Sunni government, peaceful demonstrations evolved into violent clashes between the protesters and riot police.

Invasion phase

Battle of Hormuz

Battle of Hormuz

On Monday, August 10, when Iran still hadn't lifted the blockade of the Hormuz Strait, Barack Obama, president of the United States, ordered the US Navy to prepare for battle against Iran. A standoff ensured between the nations' respective ships, but it quickly came to combat when the Iranian Navy opened fire. The Battle of Hormuz had begun, and oil prices rose accordingly to the situation. At the same time, the coalition initiated a bombing campaign with the goal of preventing ballistic missile attacks on US ships and allies, using US ships in the Persian Gulf to fire missiles and coalition jets to drop bombs. Iran, however, had already fired numerous missiles towards Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others, all of which were successfully shot down. 

The battle lasted more than a day and ended with a tactical coalition victory. The valuable strait was now open and oil could one again pass through. At least 78 people were killed in the battle and many others were injured. The following day, reacting to the actions of the US, President Ghalibaf declared war on the US, vowing to avenge its actions. US President Barack Obama officially declared war on Iran the same day on a press conference at the White House, revealing the decision to send in land troops as part of a full-scale invasion of Iran.

Obama declaring war on Iran.

Syria and Iraq, not surprisingly, declared their full support to Iran, but rather surprising was it when Sudan declared war on the coalition and started sending naval and air forces towards Iran. These forces, however, were prevented from ever reaching Iran thanks to coalition control of the Suez Channel and the Bab el-Mandeb, and the threat of shooting down any Sudanese planes entering nearby airspace. Thus Sudan had to limit it's involvement in the conflict to minor logistical support to Iran and was never involved in combat. Russia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela declared that they would provide logistical support to Iran, while China, Belarus and Bolivia, among others, limited their actions to condemning the actions of the US.

The beginning of a war at home caused Iran to pull out many of its troops from Iraq and Syria and retreat from certain areas. This led to a weakening of the regimes in Iraq and Syria, both of which where getting closer and closer to a complete collapse.

Expansion of the bombing campaign

Air strike on important location in Iran.

On August 12, following the victory in the strait, the bombing campaign was expanded to target not only missile launch sites, but also nuclear facilities, military bases, storage, important infrastructure such as airports, harbors and bridges, and strategic locations in major cities. The campaign had the goal of ruining Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as preventing further ballistic missile attacks.

Invasion of Hormozgan and Bushehr

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran and allies, Black dot = Bandar Abbas

On August 14, the coalition launched the first phase of the invasion of Iran: the invasion of Southern Iran, initially focusing on the Hormozgan Province, just north of the Hormuz Strait. Coalition forces landed in the coastal city of Bandar Abbas, attempting to surround the city, while naval forces assaulted the area and Iranian ships. Iran reacted by firing ballistic missiles from not yet destroyed launch sites towards coalition ships and US allies in the region. Several ships were hit and sank, but all missiles heading for populated areas were successfully shot down. 

The battle, which lasted for several days, ended with a strategic coalition victory and paved the way for the occupation of the entirety of the province. Through Oman, which controlled Musandam, the Hormuz Strait was now fully administrated by the coalition, and the oil could securely and continuously pass through. However, there were still many Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf, which had to be taken out or forced back to the coast. Upon overtaking Hormozgan, the coalition occupied the Bushehr Province, now controlling most of the Iranian southern coast, with the exception of coastal Khuzestan and Baluchestan.

Fall of Syria

By early August, the Syrian rebels and their foreign supporters had overtaken most of Syria with the exception of Damascus and the surrounding area, where a major battle now awaited. On August 18, Damascus was officially declared fallen as Maher al-Assad was killed in an airstrike and his regime collapsed. A transitional government was quickly formed with Free Syrian Army general Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir as temporary president, and elections were meant to be held as soon as the situation normalized.

However, the fight against supporters of the former regime and al Qaeda-afiliated groups continued, and the Kurds started advocating for independence. Saudi and Qatari troops stayed in the country, assisting the newly formed government. On August 20, the new government of Syria declared its allegiance to the coalition, and offered support.

Invasion of Southwestern Iran

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran and allies, Striped = seceded states, Black dot = Shiraz

On August 24, with much of the coast already occupied, the coalition continued its invasion of Southern Iran, this time focusing on the provinces of Fars, Khuzestan, and Kohgiluyeh and Boyet-Ahmad, entering from already-occupied Hormozgan and Bushehr. Coalitional forces, assisted by ethnically Arab fighters, quickly captured the southern parts of Khuzestan, as well as Kohgiluyeh and Boyet-Ahmad, joining with Saudi and Qatari troops at the Iran-Iraq border. In the more mountainous Fars Province, a major battle took place in Shiraz, the largest city in the province, and the coalition was met by a large Iranian force. The Battle of Shiraz ended with a tactical Iranian victory, but the coalition, nevertheless, managed to capture the southern parts of the province. Meanwhile, in Sistan and Baluchestan, Pakistani forces assisted the coalition in capturing a small strip of land at the coast, effectively cutting Iran off from the Persian Gulf. Although Iranian forces had been pushed further into the country, fighting with local militias continued for weeks to come.

Independence of Al-Ahwaz

On August 28, upon the capture of southern Khuzestan, a separatist group representing the "Republic of Al-Ahwaz" proclaimed independence from Iran. The secession was not officially recognized by the coalition and the area was formally still under coalitional control, but the coalition did nothing to stop the separatists from overtaking villages in the province. The self-proclaimed leadership of Al-Ahwaz assured the coalition that it had no ties with the al-Qaeda besides collaboration in the fight against Iran. After all, al-Ahwaz was Shia Islamic, whereas the al Qaeda was Sunni Islamic, and thus they were generally enemies.

Azerbaijani coup d'etát

Map of Azerbaijan.

On August 28, a coup d'etát against Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev took place. There had been minor protests against the president some weeks before the coup, but the events had barely been covered by the Western media or noticed by the international community, thus making the coup totally unexpected. The coup was led by a Shia Islamist group covertly backed by Iran and its allies. Upon the fall of Aliyev's government, the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, previously receiving financial support from Iran, was unbanned, and its leader Movsum Samadov was released from prison and made president. Ilham Aliyev managed to flee through Georgia and into Turkey, establishing a government-in-exile. The official name of the country was then changed to the Islamic Republic of Azerbaijan by President Samadov.

On the day following the coup, Samadov's regime swore allegiance to Iran, while Aliyev's government-in-exile officially joined the coalition. On August 30, two days after the coup, Georgia and Armenia officially joined the coalition, while Russia voiced its concern over how the coup would affect the rest of the Caucasus region, saying that it was "prepared to defend the national interests of the Russian Federation". The new Azerbaijan was especially a threat to Armenia, a close Russian ally, with which Azerbaijan had territorial disputes and generally a hostile relationship.

Invasion of Northwestern Iran

Coalitional tank in Iran

On September 8, the coalition launched the second phase of the invasion of Iran: the invasion of Western Iran, initially focusing on the northwest. The plan was to send armed forces and tanks into Iranian Kurdistan and Iranian Azerbaijan from Turkey and the holdings in Iraq, and then reach Tabriz, Iran's fourth largest city. This region was the most densely populated in Iran and highly mountainous, making the invasion a major challenge.

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran and allies, Striped = seceded states, Black dot = Tabriz

The coalition was met by large Iranian forces upon entering the region, but they also received (limited) assistance from Azerbaijani and Kurdish rebel fighters. Either way, the battles were long and exhausting for both sides. On September 12, at the city of Tabriz, one of the most important battles in the war took place. Outside the city, coalition forces were victims of an ambush committed by Iran, the newly islamized Azerbaijan and their supporters.

The Battle of Tabriz, which lasted an entire week, was a massacre, and at least 250 people were killed in total, including civilians. The Iranian regime allegedly used chemical weapons during the battle, but the regime and its supporters denied this.The battle was a tactical victory for Iran which halted the coalition invasion of Iranian Azerbaijan. The coalition, nonetheless, succeeded in capturing West Azerbaijan and most of Iranian Kurdistan, thus nearly surrounding the increasingly weakened Iraq.

Reactions to the Battle of Tabriz

Following the deadly battle, the coalition strongly condemned the Iranian regime and called for more nations to support the invasion of the country. On September 18, countries formerly resorting to logistical support, including the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Kenya and Ethiopia, now deployed troops to Iran to fight alongside the coalition, and so did India and Indonesia. Russia and China expressed serious worry over the use of chemical weapons, as well as the discovered Iranian involvement in the Azerbaijani coup, and Russia, along with Kazakhstan, effectively ended its logistical support to Iran on September 21. As a result of the lack of support from Russia, Iran was weakened, and the coalition, now with even more supporters, could keep on.

Division of Iraq

Map of Northern Iraq (blue), Iraqi Kurdistan (green) and Southern Iraq (red)

By early September, the coalition in Iraq had reached deep into the country and captured parts of Baghdad, and President al-Maliki had been killed in a bomb attack, being replaced by a high-ranking general. On September 23, as Baghdad was officially declared fallen by the coalition, Iraq broke apart, leading to the formation of three new states: the Republic of (North) Iraq and the Republic of Iraqi Kurdistan with Sunnite, secular, pro-Western governments; and the Islamic Republic of (South) Iraq with a Shi'ite, pro-Iranian government. Upon the formation of North Iraq, the Northern Iraqi Army was disbanded and reorganized as the national armed forces of the country. Despite the fact that more than two thirds of Iraq was now in the hands of the coalition, heavy fighting continued against al-Qaeda and other terror groups, both Sunnite and Shi'ite.

Invasion of the Iran-Iraq border area

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran and allies, Striped area = seceded states

Following the deadly Battle of Tabriz, the now larger coalition decided to temporarily halt its invasion of Iranian Azerbaijan and instead move further south to the Iran-Iraq border area, disturbing the original plans. The goal was to invade and capture the rest of Illam and Khuzestan, as well as Lorestan, effectively surrounding South Iraq. On September 29, coalition forces, assisted by Luri rebel fighters, pushed forward in the three provinces, overwhelming the Iranian Army, which at the moment was much more focused on the northwest. Nevertheless, the battles weren't easy, especially since the al-Qaeda and affiliated groups had now positioned themselves in the area, hiding in the mountains. Eventually, the coalition succeeded in capturing all three provinces, surrounding South Iraq. A small move into South Iraq itself was also made as part of the invasion.

Independence of Luristan

On October 8, as Illam, Khuzestan and Lorestan fell to the coalition, the "Republic of Luristan" proclaimed independence from Iran. There were, however, still hundreds of thousands of Lurs outside of this region, but Luristan had no interest in overtaking more land, instead inviting 'foreign' Lurs to "move to their freed homeland". The secession was not officially recognized by the coalition and the area was formally still under coalition control, but the coalition did nothing to stop the separatists from overtaking villages in the province.

Fall of South Iraq

Coalitional forces in Iraq

On October 9, the coalition launched a full-scale invasion of South Iraq, temporarily reducing most efforts in Iran to simply keeping a hold of already occupied territory. Coalition forces entered the surrounded country from all sides with the main operation being launched from the west, eastward into the country. Najaf, the largest and most sacred city in the country, became the place of heavy fighting between coalition, Iraqi-Iranian, and Islamist forces, but a coalition victory was reached within a fairly short time. Eventually, most populated areas had fallen to the coalition and the majority of enemy forces had been driven into the desert. Eventually, on October 17, South Iraq fell to the coalition, and hundreds of troops and rebels failing to escape were captured. Following its capture, South Iraq was quickly absorbed into the secular North Iraq, which then went back to being called just Iraq.

Middle Eastern Terror Campaign

From October 12 to October 15, terrorist attacks were carried out by pro-Iran Shi'ite groups in cities across the Middle East. All targeted countries were coalition-aligned and/or occupied, and the targets were mainly Western embassies, and government buildings. Targeted cities include Beirut, Damascus, Aleppo, Baghdad, Sana'a, Riyadh, Doha, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ankara, as well as several military camps inside Iran. The motive of the campaign, as declared by Hezbollah and others, was to avenge the capture of large parts of Iran, Syria and Iraq by the coalition.

Second Invasion of Northwestern Iran

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran and allies, Striped = seceded states, Black dot = Tabriz, Black line and dots = 'AFL'

On October 21, the coalition, now with more participants than the last time, launched a new massive invasion of Northwestern Iran. Coalition forces pushed forward through East Azerbaijan, supported by Azerbaijani and Kurdish rebel fighters, while helicopters and jets headed straight for Tabriz, the most important city in the region. A major battle, the 2nd Battle of Tabriz, was fought in the already shattered city, but this time with a strategic coalition victory and the forced retreat of the Iranian forces. The coalition continued its march all the way to the Caspian Sea, successfully cut off Azerbaijan from Iran, and now planned to liberate the country upon the capture of Northwestern Iran. In the Caspian area, Talysh and Gilaki rebel fighters offered limitied assistance to the coalition.

The following objectives in the invasion were to capture and draw a line between the cities of Hamadan, Zanjan and Rasht. Rasht in coastal Gilan was the first to fall to the coalitional forces, while tremendous fighting went on in Hamadan and Zanjan, two major strategic points. Eventually, both cities fell to the coalition following a decisive but yet relatively 'hollow' victory with many lives lost on both side. By November 7, a strategic line had been drawn between the three large cities of Rasht, Zanjan and Hamadan, known as the Azeri Front Line (AFL). The remaining parts of the provinces were captured shortly thereafter, and a small move into Qazvin was also made.The invasion caused riots in several cities, including those invaded, and local militias engaged in combat against the coalition alongside global terror groups.

A few days after the occupation of Northwestern Iran, the coalition discovered an underground nuclear weapons storage. This proved what the West had feared: Iran was developing nuclear weapons, not nuclear power. Since bombing the site was not an option, the weapons were to be transported to another location where they would be destroyed. The coalition also found indications that Saddam Hussein's Iraq did in fact possess weapons of mass destruction, but that these were transported to Syria and Iran just before the 2003 invasion.

Independence of South Azerbaijan and Iranian Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdish troops in Iranian Kurdistan

Following the capture of Northwestern Iran, coalition-aligned Azerbaijani and Kurdish rebel groups declared the independence of the 'Iranian Kurdish Republic' on October 24, and the 'Republic of South Azerbaijan' on November 6, respectively. The Azerbaijanis claimed the provinces of West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Zanjan and Ardabil, while the Kurds claimed Kurdistan, Kermanshah and large parts of West Azerbaijan. The overlapping claims over West Azerbaijan caused some tension between the two newfound countries, but they agreed to split the province between them along ethnolingustic lines. The secession of the two regions was not officially recognized by the coalition and the areas were formally still under coalitional control, but informally, they both joined the coalition. Troops from Iraqi Kurdistan were sent into Iranian Kurdistan, which had no standing army, to protect them and keep law and order.

Operation Enduring Freedom - Azerbaijan (OEF-AZ)

On November 8, the coalition launched Operation Enduring Freedom – Azerbaijan, abbreviated OEF-AZ. Since no countries other than Iran recognized the new government of Azerbaijan and the regime posed a threat to neighboring countries, this operation was unanimously accepted by the UN Security Council. Supported by jets bombing military facilities and other sites, coalitional forces entered Azerbaijan from multiple sides, heading straight for the capital of Baku. President Samadov escaped and received exile somewhere in Eastern Iran, while troops and militias loyal to his regime continued to fight the coalition. The coalition, however, with support from a large pro-Aliyev brigade, reached Baku fast, and Samadov's supporters couldn’t do much to stop them. As most of the country fell to coalitional forces, the Samadov-regime was overthrown and Aliyev returned to the capital. Fighting against the Islamists, however, continued for weeks, and few days after the operation, a car bomb killed 13 people in Baku.

Battle of Tehran and invasion of surrounding areas

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran, Striped = seceded states, Black dot = Tehran

On November 13, the coalition launched the third phase of the invasion of Iran: the invasion of Tehran and surrounding areas. Air forces initiated a bombing campaign in the city, targeting military facilities and important infrastructure, before thousands of troops and armed vehicles entered the city. Coalitional forces were initially met by Iranian troops and security forces, but also opposing militias and rebel groups were involved in the battle. Shortly after fighting broke out, President Ghalibaf and Ayatollah Khamenei were evacuated to a secret location outside of Yazd further east.

While heavy fighting went on in Tehran, the coalition launched an operation to capture the area between Tehran and already occupied territory, as well as other areas near Tehran. As the Iranian forces were mainly concerned with defending their capital, coalitional forces in this area mostly fought Shi'ite rebel groups and local militias in the mountainous region, and thus they captured large areas within a fairly short time. After almost two weeks of fighting, the city of Tehran fell to the coalition but with great losses on both sides and almost 250 causalities in total. At this point, the coalition had also captured the rest of Qazvin and Alborz, as well as parts of Markazi and Mazandaran. However, they failed to capture the eastern parts of the Tehran Province. The coalition then took on areas just south of the Tehran Province, and within a fairly short time, coalition forces had captured the rest of Markazi, Mazandaran and Qom.

However, fighting in this area of Iran was far from over, as Shi'ite rebel groups and local militias continued the battle long after the Iranian forces had gone further east, although the coalition met support from parts of the relatively Westernized population.

Invasion of West-Central Iran

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran, Striped = seceded states, Black dot = Isfahan

On November 30, the coalition launched the fourth phase in the invasion of Iran: the invasion of Central Iran, initially focusing on the western parts of the region. The top priorities of the operation were to secure the Caspian coast and occupy the major city of Isfahan. Heavy fighting erupted as coalitional crossed the line between coalitional- and Iranian-controlled territory in the provinces of Tehran and Mazandaran. Progress was slow in this densely populated region, but soon the coalition forces were assisted by Turkmen fighters from Golestan and groups of Mazandarani rebels, fighting for independence from Iran. Once the coastal region had fallen, the troops headed south into the much more sparsely populated, deserted Semnan Province, in which they quickly progressed. Much further to the south, coalition and pro-coalition rebel forces captured the Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, before heading straight for the major city of Isfahan, where a major battle would occur. The battle lasted for nearly 5 days, although fighting continued for much longer due to the presence of rebel groups and local militias. Eventually, the coalition had captured more than half of Isfahan, as well as most of Semnan.

Independence of Turkmen Sahra

On December 7, as most of Golestan had fallen to the coalition, the Turkmen fighters declared independene as the 'Republic of Turkmen Sahra'. The secession of was not officially recognized by the coalition and the province was formally still under coalitional control, but informally, the independent Turkmen Sahra joined the coalition. The Turkmen rebels, although they had achieved their goal of forming their own state, continued the fight further to the east, where their Turkic brothers, the Khorasani Turks, also sought independence.

Invasion of South-Central Iran

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran, Striped = seceded states, Black dots = Shiraz and Yazd

On December 19, the coalition continued its invasion of Central Iran, this time focusing on the southern parts of the region. The goal was to capture the two major cities of Shiraz and Yazd in order to pave the way for operations in Eastern Iran. While Turkmen fighters fought on in North Khorasan, coalition forces slowly fought their way through the mountains of Isfahan and northern Fars, but were soon ready for the takeover of Shiraz. Forces coming from Isfahan would enter the city from the north, while forces stationed in the Gulf region would enter from the south, attempting to surround the city. The 1. Battle of Shiraz months earlier in the war had been lost by the coalition, but this time the battle, which lasted for several days, ended with a strategic coalition victory. The success in Shiraz was followed by the capture of the rest of Fars and southern Isfahan, and coalitional forces now headed for Yazd, the city where President Ghalibaf and Ayatollah Khamenei were secretly hiding. Now in lower lands, progress in the Yazd Province was faster, and coalition forces arrived outside of the city within a short time. By this time, the leaders of Iran had been relocated further east, while Iranian forces fought hard to keep control of the city. A high morale in the Iranian Army and Shi'ite rebel groups made the Battle of Yazd a long and exhausting one, lasting for 6 days with intense fighting and many causalities. Eventually, the city fell and the coalition could prepare to initiate the next phase in the war.

Invasion of Southeastern Iran

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran, Striped = seceded states, Black dot = Kerman

On January 4, 2016, the coalition launched the fifth phase of the invasion of Iran: the invasion of Southeastern Iran, with the main target being the city of Kerman. Coalition forces slowly fought their way eastward through the mountainous provinces of Yazd and Kerman, struggling to keep control of the area due to the now heavy presence of guerrilla fighters, while forces from Hormozgan began moving northwards. Eventually, they joined together near the city of Kerman, falling to the coalition within 3 days, but heavy fighting continued nonetheless. With the capture of Kerman, the coalitional forces continued their campaign in the east of the province, now in lower lands, making progress faster. Farther east, in the Sistan and Baluchistan Province, Pakistani-led forces, supported by Baluchi rebel fighters, had captured the city of Zahedan and made their way through the mountains. Eventually, coalitional forces coming from east and west joined together in the lower lands of province, managing to capture the rest of the area. Meanwhile, up north, Turkmen Sahra had managed to capture the rest of the North Khorasan Province, which they then annexed.

Independence of West Baluchistan

On January 22, with the capture of most of the Sistan and Baluchistan Province, several organizations representing the Baluchi fighters came together to declare the independence of the 'Republic of West Baluchistan'. The secession of was not officially recognized by the coalition and the province was formally still under coalitional control, but informally, the independent Baluchistan joined the coalition. Pakistan and Afghanistan were anxious about the formation of this new nation, considering how ethnic Baluchis lived in large numbers in the southern regions, and Baluchi terrorist organizations were operating in their countries. West Baluchistan, however, assured them that had no connection to Islamist terror groups such as Jundallah, although they would continue to actively fight for an independent Baluchistan through various means.

Invasion of Khorasan

Blue = Coalition, Red = Iran, Striped = seceded states, Black dot = Mashhad

On January 24, the coalition launched the sixth and final phase of the invasion of Iran: the invasion of the Khorasan region. The initial goal was to capture Mashhad, Iran's second largest city. located not far from the border to Turkmenistan. Coalitional forces stationed in Turkmen Sahra crossed the border to Razavi Khorasan, heading straight for Mashhad, while forces further south started pushing northeastward into the region. The Iranian Army was forced to fight on multiple fronts at once, and the resulting chaos allowed the Taliban and other Sunnite terror groups to find their way into Iran from Afghanistan, fighting both coalitional and Iranian fores. After 8 days of heavy fighting, Mashhad finally fell to the coalition, along with most of the Turkmen-Iranian border area, and at the same time, further south, the coalition had managed to capture large parts of South Khorasan. Forces from both north and south then took on the rest of the region, which was eventually captured. At the end of this phase, parts of the Iranian Army surrendered to the coalition while others were captured, but many fled into the mountains, as well as into Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, including the Iranian  leaders Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ghalibaf. This marked the end of the invasion of Iran, but now awaited the much greater challenge of keeping control of the country, which was now more unstable and chaotic than ever.

End of the invasion and aftermath

Coming soon...

Division of Iran

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Second phase

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