6 October 1980, Iran & Iraq: Suddenly the nightmare, the conflict that had only been discussed as a worst-case scenario, was at hand—war amid the oilfields and across the vital oil routes of the Persian Gulf. Day after day last week, Iraqi pilots flying Soviet-built MiGs headed eastward for bombing raids on military targets and oil facilities across the Iranian border, including the Tigris-Euphrates estuary known as Shatt al Arab. Caught by surprise at first, the Iranians responded with attacks of their own, sending American-made Phantom F-4 fighter-bombers against Iraqi cities and installations. A fearful battle was under way. Iraqi armor and infantry punched across 500 miles of desert front at many points, surrounding two key Iranian cities but running into stubborn resistance and counterattacks. In the Shatt and in the northern gulf, naval craft skirmished and bombarded shore installations.
– October 6, 1980