INTRODUCTION: The latest wave of fighting in the Gulf War has entered on the town of Susangerd in the heart of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan.
GVs Camera crews running to wall to take sover on outskirts of Khorramshahr. (2 SHOTS)
GV View down dirt road with man in distance.
GV ZOOM IN Soldier running with ammunition box on shoulder PULL BACK TO LV.
GV PAN War-damaged buildings and rubble.
LV PAN Iranian sandbag positions.
GV PULL BACK TO LV Iranian soldier firing rocket from sandbag position.
SV Iranian soldiers firing rocket launchers and automatic weapons. (5 SHOTS)
LV ACROSS Shatt-al-Arab under bridge to Iraqi-held side ZOOM INTO GV damaged bridge.
GVs Iranians firing automatic weapons. (2 SHOTS)
GV PAN Damaged buildings and date palms. (2 SHOTS)
GV PULL BACK TO LV Chimney at oil refinery complex PAN ACROSS complex.
GV PULL BACK TO LV Refinery complex ZOOM INTO CU barbed wire fence around complex.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The latest wave of fighting in the Gulf War has entered on the town of Susangerd in the heart of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan. But further south, just a few kilometres from the head of the Gulf itself, an equally important struggle has been going on for control of the Iranian city of Khorramshahr. It is here, overlooking the contested Shatt-al-Arab waterway, that Iranian troops have been trying in recent days to break the Iraqi stronghold.
SYNOPSIS: It took the Iraqis four attempts to capture Khorramshahr in the early days of the war, and the Iranians are now finding it equally difficult to penetrate the outskirts. Khorramshahr was the main entry point for Iraqi troops invading Iran from the south in late 1980, and by controlling the city the Iraqis were able to suffocate the vital Iranian oil refining city of Abadan, a few kilometres south. An Iranian recapture of Khorramshahr could change the course of the war. The road to Basra, Iraq's only port in the Gulf, would then be open, and Iraqi territory would be threatened for the first time.
Khorramshahr has suffered as much as any Iranian city in the fighting. Iraqi control has never been complete. Iranian guerrillas, holed up in the centre of the city have resisted the Iraqis for over a year, secretly supplied at night from across the River Karun. There has been no full-scale battle for Khorramshahr in the latest fighting. The Iranians are strengthening their positions, on the south eastern outskirts and firing occasional rockets and automatic weapons. The Iraqis are reportedly holding their positions, but making little attempt to control the whole city.
The Iranians have found it easier to reinforce outside Khorramshahr since the Iraqis pulled back to the western side of the River Karun which runs through the city. It was in September that Ayatollah Khomeini's forces scored their first major success of the conflict when they lifted the Iraqi siege of Abadan. That was a success which has helped them step up the challenge here for Khorramshahr.
From across the river the Iraqis engage in periodic exchanges. Teheran claims its enemy has lost 2,500 lives in the latest fighting, a figure strongly denied by Iraqi's President Saddam Hussein. It is known however that the Iraqis, who have not made a major assault since the first month of the war, are concerned at their level of casualties. They compensate the families of dead soldiers with money and land, but it's little consolation for the loss of life.
Although the Iraqis do not want to loss any more lives over Khorramshahr, they have invested heavily in winning a strategic position in the south. Teheran has accused them of plundering the captured towns, and Khorramshahr itself lies in ruins.
One of the main casualties of the war has been the Iranian oil industry. Abadan refinery burnt for months after initial Iraqi bombing, and Iranian oil production has plunged. But the Iraqis failed to cut the oil pipeline to Teheran and the Iranian military machine has struggled on. President Hussein has said he will fight the Iranians anywhere and Ayatollah Khomeini will not consider peace until every Iraqi soldier has left Iran.