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3rd Division (Iraq)

The 3rd Division was a formation of the Iraqi Army. It was active by 1941, disbanded along with the rest of the Iraqi Army in 2003, but reactivated by 2005. It was effectively destroyed when Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took Mosul in June–July 2014.

3rd Division
Activec. 1930s–2003; 2005–2014
CountryIraq Kingdom of Iraq (c. 1930s–1958)
Iraq Republic of Iraq (1958–68)
Iraq Ba'athist Iraq (1968–2003)
 Iraq (2005–present)
BranchIraqi Army
TypeMotorised Infantry
Part ofIraqi Ground Forces Command
Garrison/HQAl Kisik Base, Mosul
EngagementsAnglo-Iraqi War

Six-Day War
Yom Kippur War
Iran–Iraq War

Persian Gulf War
Iraqi Kurdish Civil War
2003 invasion of Iraq Iraq War

Fall of Mosul (2014)


Before being disbanded in 2003, the previous 3rd Division had been one of the four original divisions of the Iraqi Army, being active in 1941 during the Anglo-Iraqi War. The division's most notable activity in the war came on 22 May when the division's 6th Infantry Brigade staged a counterattack against British forces in Fallujah which was repulsed.

In July 1958 elements of the division had overthrown the Iraqi government in the 14 July Revolution, with Abd al-Karim Qasim, commander of the 20th Infantry Brigade (an armoured brigade according to Darwish and Alexander) stationed near Ba'quba, the originator of the coup. However the actual overthrow was led by a battalion commander, Abdul Salam Arif, in the 19th Infantry Brigade.[2]

Soldiers of the 3rd Division during a training exercise in 2011

Some time in the 1950s or 1960s the division was converted into the 3rd Armoured Division, which was deployed to the 1967 Six-Day War. Iraqi participation in the Six Day War was limited, principally owing to the slow reaction of the 3rd Armoured Division, which had been stationed in eastern Jordan.[3] The 3rd Armoured Division did not organise itself and reach the front line before the Jordanians ceased operations. Later during the events of Black September in Jordan, 1970, the division was still stationed in northeast Jordan. Though the Jordanians needed forces to repel the Syrian invasion, they had to keep the 99th Brigade of their 3rd Armoured Division out of the conflict so that they could watch the Iraqi division.[4]

The 3rd Armoured Division saw service later in the Yom Kippur War, under the command of Brigadier General Lafta and Abdul-Jawad Dhannoun, and was deployed alongside the Jordanian 40th Armoured Brigade. By that time, 'the division was the elite unit of the army, and Iraqi officers avidly competed to be assigned to it.'[5] The Division suffered heavy casualties during the war, losing more than 157 tanks, 278 dead and 898 wounded.[6] The 8th Mechanised Brigade was completely destroyed on 13 October in an ambush set by four Israeli armoured brigades at Tel Shaar, between Maschara and Nasej.[7] The division later fought in the Iran–Iraq War. Commander of the division Brig. Gen. Juwad Asaad was among the commanders executed by Saddam Hussein due to heavy losses in Operation Jerusalem launched by Iran. It also fought Persian Gulf War, operations in the 1990s, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Just before the Iraq War it was part of the II Corps, on the Iranian border. It comprised the 6th Armoured Brigade, 12th Armoured Brigade, and 8th Mechanised Brigade.[8] It was disbanded when the Iraqi Armed Forces were formally dissolved by Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2.

After its reformation post-2003, the division was headquartered at Al Kisik. Its units were part of the original three division New Iraqi Army. As of January 2005, the division was commanded by Maj. Gen. Khursheed Saleem Hassan.[9] The 3rd Division was transferred from coalition control to the Iraqi Ground Forces Command on 1 December 2006.[10]

In 2014, the 6th Brigade of the 3rd Division was described as 'the first line of Mosul's defence' against ISIS. Reuters said that 'On paper, the brigade had 2,500 men. The reality was closer to 500. The brigade was also short of weapons and ammunition, according to one non-commissioned officer. Infantry, armour and tanks had been shifted to Anbar, where more than 6,000 soldiers had been killed and another 12,000 had deserted. It left Mosul with virtually no tanks and a shortage of artillery,' according to Lieutenant General Mahdi Gharawi, commander of the Ninevah operational command.[11]

Jane's Defence Weekly's 30 July account of the Iraqi Army's poor performance against ISIS during the offensive in Northern Iraq during June 2014 said the division, by then comprising the 6th, 9th, 10th, and 11th Brigades, had almost totally dissolved or been destroyed in fighting. The exception appeared to be the 4th Battalion of the 10th Brigade, which had been defending a position outside Tall Afar in early July 2014.[12]

Subordinate unitsEdit

  • Division Headquarters
  • 6th Motorised Brigade
  • 9th Motorised Brigade
  • 10th Motorised Brigade ('Desert Lions')
  • 11th Motorised Brigade
  • 3rd Motor Transport Regiment?


  1. ^ Dunstan, Simon (2003). The Yom Kippur War 1973: Golan Heights Pt.1. Elsm Court, Chapel Way, Botley, Oxford OX2 9LP, United Kingdom: Osprey Publishing Ltd. p. 18. ISBN 1 84176 220 2.
  2. ^ Pollack 2002, p. 156
  3. ^ Pollack 2002, p. 167
  4. ^ Pollack 2002, p. 343
  5. ^ Pollack 2002, p. 167
  6. ^ Dunstan 2003, p. 83
  7. ^ Dunstan 2003, p. 75
  8. ^ Cordesman 2002, p. 3
  9. ^ "IRAQ: Iraqi Army's 8th Brigade graduate multiple classes". Noticias. 17 January 2005. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  10. ^ United States Department of Defense, Transcript of discussion with Commander Multinational Division North, 1 December 2006
  11. ^ Reuters/Business Insider Australia, An Iraqi General Says that Baghdad is Wrong about How Mosul Fell to ISIS,' 14 October 2014.
  12. ^ Mitchell Prothero, 'Baghdad breakdown', Jane's Defence Weekly, 30 July 2014, p.22


External linksEdit