Memory Telling of Zahra Almasian, Veteran Lady of the Holy Defense

Relief in Khorramshahr and Abadan

Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


The first young years of Zahra Almasian coincided with victory of Islamic Revolution and beginning of the imposed war by Saddam Army against Iran. She began working in several fields in Abadan in early days of invasion of Iraqi Ba'athist in Iran. But as Khorramshahr situation became critical, which was at high risk more than Abadan, she goes to Khorramshahr for relief, and after several days of activity under heavy fire of the enemy, she is injured there. Various activities that she carried out in those days led correspondent of Iranian Oral History Website to visit her and talk about her memories of that era.



Where were you when Iraqi imposed war against Iran was begun?

When the war was started, I was in wedding ceremony of one of my intimate friend. The ceremony had been held in Mahdi Mouood (aj) mosque of Abadan. At the end of the ceremony, it was informed that Iraq has attacked Khorramshahr. My two friends and I did not go to his house with the bride. We moved quickly towards Khorramshahr and Al-Zahra's maternity for pursuing issues and help if we did something. They had brought there a number of injured people. We did everything we could and returned to Abadan at night. Of course, I don't mean the formal war at this time. As you know, a few months before start of the imposed war, Saddam carried out a series of harassments and attacked the borders.


Yes, that's right. What activities did you do when the imposed war was started formally?

We started to work from the very moment that the war was begun. On behalf of a board which was affiliated with the governorate, we were responsible for identifying houses, buildings and people who had died a martyr or injured, and inform team of destruction of homes or shops. In addition, I worked in Taleghani and Shahid Beheshti hospitals and often delivered the wounded to these two hospitals. Shahid Beheshti Hospital was close to cemetery and village of Choo Abdeh and Taleghani Hospital was close to Khorramshahr. Meanwhile, I was in logistics and support of mosque of Mahdi Mouood (as). We acted there in the food sector. We were very careful about food. We were worried that Monafeghin (hypocrites) throw something in fighters' food. They were active in the city. That's why we did not allow all persons to cook. The women who we trusted them completely, and knew them before the revolution that they were revolutionary and their spouses and children were in war lines, such as martyr Mohammad Dashti's wife, or mother of martyrs Amir Shafie, whose her three children died a martyr, made meal. We told them not to go together for repeat Wudu or prayers.


You went Abadan after bombard of its education...

Yes, Iraqi planes bombed the education and the museum in the first days of the war and in office hours. After bombing, I went there. Clerks had been remained under debris. They exited corpses under debris one by one and brought them to Shahid Beheshti Hospital. Then we went to Shahid Beheshti Hospital to help which was nearest hospital there. On the other hand, they brought wounded from Choo Abdeh border lines, and the hospital was very crowded. People had not yet evacuated the city, and there were also women and children among injured.


Have you been trained relief courses before start of the war or you learned experimentally after the war?

I had not been trained relief course. I had passed a full nursing course. After victory of Islamic Revolution, several groups were formed in Abadan. Hajj Agha Seyyed Mohammad Kiavash formed a group with his own money. He was a professor of Quran and Tafsir and had also engaged in political activities before victory of Islamic Revolution. After the revolution, he became officer for education of Khuzestan province. He provided a situation for forces who had collaborated with him in political affairs before victory of the revolution to pass cultural and nursing education. I had engaged in politics from Middle school before victory of Islamic Revolution. In a journey that we went with 48 sisters to Isfahan for four months on the part of Esfahanis Hosseinieh of Abadan in 1973 and 1974, we were taught for four months in Seminary of lady Amin Esfahani Tafsir courses of Qur'an and Nahj al-Balagha, Arabic literature, Hadith and a number of other courses. After returning from there, we entered political affairs, because we got acquainted with friends who were active in politics. My father was also a political fighter and we were also familiar with Mr. Kiavash. He brought proclamations of Imam Khomeini and we multiplied them. My sister typed and I had passed a diploma in typewriting. We broadcast announcements among religious people who we trusted. After victory of the revolution, we passed nursing and military training on the part of IRGC and with assistance of Mr. Kiavash. In fact, religious and revolutionary forces were training their forces. They asked us to provide nursing uniform that was a long white wimple, a white manteau and pants, so that we could be served in hospitals if needed. That's why I passed complete theoretical and practical in hospital.


As the war was started most families left Abadan. Weren’t your father disagreed with staying you in the city?

No, my dad was not Abadan at that time. He was a political campaigner before victory of Islamic Revolution. He had hidden announcements in the store and was prosecuted by Abadan SAVAK. So he went to Isfahan and stayed there and had a bag and shoes shop. Of course we did not go along with him. When the war was started, he called quickly and said, "Empty the house and give it to domestic forces to use it"; because our house was very big and more than a thousand meters. He himself returned to Abadan and did not disagree with our activities. We gathered all the house appliances and put them in one of the rooms in order to change the house to a war and educational base. All of our family was in the city and did everything we could. My mother was in hospital, my sister worked with me, my brothers were also active. Even my brother's wife, who was pregnant, stayed in the city, and we forced our brother to take his wife out of the city; I tried to go home every night from where I was so that my family would not be alone; although the house was not safe too.


Why did you go to Khorramshahr for relief?

IRGC had evacuated sister and brother forces in Khorramshahr. Forces who had remained in the city fought with the Ba'athists in a single combat. As it seemed there was no sister too. I and a lady named Fatima Gholami, of course her last name was Parivash, went to Khoramshahr for help. In a house after Jama Masjid, we settled between railway and customs.


How was situation in Khorramshahr?

People had evacuated the city. Houses and buildings had been destroyed. Ba'athists had entered the city, but they still had not completely seized the city. In fact, Ba'athists were distributed in different places. As well as Monafeghin based in the city. They were from remained forces of Arab people tumult or Monafeghin, cooperated with the enemy, and showed them place of our forces and they struck there.


What did you do there?

They had conditioned us not interfere in doctor work! We helped Dr. Siamak Sadeghi, who had been deployed from Tehran and died a martyr in September/October of that year. The troops who were injured were brought for initial treatment. The doctor was skilled in his work. He was very God-fearing and revolutionary. As it appeared, several people had worked with him before us, but the doctor had not been happy with them and asked them to go. He had ordered bring people who do what I say, not what they like. He betted us not to talk and make a comment during the job because intensity and volume of work was high, and we also who had passed a full nursing course if we wanted to say what to do and what not to do, his program was disrupted. We cleaned with gauze and cotton and other equipment dust on wounds of the injured so that pollution would not transmit to that part and lead to infection. We bandaged their wounds and prevented possible amputation of hands and leg or other organs of the body. If there was a car, we would transfer them to Abadan Hospital; because the doctor could not do all work for wounded lonely and did not have all necessary equipment. At first, Khorramshahr defenders brought there the wounded, but when number of troops became less, I went myself to the war lines for bring the injured. This was done in a very difficult circumstance.



What was situation in which you transferred the wounded?

We were on the line, but defender forces were ahead of us. They brought back the wounded and we treated them. But when Ba'athists struck the city extremely and number of the wounded was increased, our troop's strength for bringing back reduced too; because they wanted to stay in the lines and fight. The wounded also did not have power to fight. They told us need someone to bring the wounded back. Once I went with one of forces, who was from Arab guys of Khorramshahr, with permission of Dr. Sadeghi and my friend stayed with Dr. Sadeghi. Ba'athists fired from four sides. Ground was rugged and walking and running on it was very difficult. Lampposts, brick of buildings, coolers, and other appliances had been fallen on the floor. They bombarded Khamsah Khamsah[1], they fired with many types of weapons as if the blue sky appeared black and smoke had been spread in ground and sky. We would gather the wounded with help of one of the forces who had followed us, put them in a wheelbarrow and would take back.


How many injured could you mount in a wheelbarrow?

We did not bring corpses of martyrs, we brought the wounded. We put them upon each other. I held front of wheelbarrow, and that man move it. Wheelbarrow moved hardly upon rugged ground. After returning the wounded, if there was a car, those who weren't treated outpatient would transfer to Abadan. One of the days, situation was very difficult and Ba'athist had progressed a lot. There was no car to carry the injured. By invocation to Ahl al-Bayt (PBUH) and praying God, I wanted a car so we could take the wounded to Abadan Hospital. I had invocated to Umm ul-Banin, mother of Hazrat Abolfazl (PBUH). A car came and we mounted the wounded and take them to Abadan and ordered that they must undergo emergency surgery.


Did not gentlemen tell you go out of town and it is no longer a place for you stay?

No, because they needed us. But when we approached them, they said, "Go, if Iraqis see you, they shoot more."


How old were most of the wounded?

Most of them were young.


Do you remember a memory of these wounded people?

The wounded who a part of their bodies had been destroyed suffered much pain. Some of them told me their will or said that my will is in my pocket give it to my family or tell my family what our goal was; we went to preserve Islamic Republic and supporting Imam Khomeini. Some of them were in a very critical mood. They suffered a lot pain and were unable to speak much.


Didn't you go in a faint when you saw the painful wounded?

No. Because I had seen in Shahid Beheshti Hospital the worst kind of injured who had been injured in bombarding the education and the museum. Meanwhile, we did not have time to express our feelings. There was a lot of work and a few forces, and there was no time to go in a faint or showing emotional behavior in order not to miss opportunities.


How long did you spend in those critical days in Khorramshahr?

I was there until the day I was injured. A few days later Khorramshahr collapsed and Dr. Sadeghi died a martyr and my friend returned to Abadan.


Explain about cause of your injury.

A man from Khoramshahr came to our station in the afternoon. A Kalashnikov was in his hand. He wanted us to go along with him to help the injured in the city. Dr. Sadeghi took a look at me, I said, "Go?" he intimated me go. I picked up some gauze, pins and first aid tools and went. Ba'athists had become very close to us. They shot in khamsah khamsah way and the ground and sky were scenes of firing all kinds of weapons. We could not stay too long for caring the wounded. We tried most to gather the wounded and bring them to our station. We brought them back with wheelbarrow. When we were coming back, we saw an old man and old woman about seventy, eighty-year-olds that a bundle was in their hands and were still in the city!


Didn't you ask them why they did not leave the city in this situation?
We did not have time to talk and we should bring the wounded back. We should use seconds to seconds of our time. When we reached our station, I saw that there was full of injured in hallway of the house where we stationed; we could not walk there. The room was also full of injured. Doctor and my friend were alone. I said, "Doctor I brought a number of injured." We brought them with help of that man who was our companion to the building. There was no place in the building; we wanted to put them in the yard so that bring rest of the wounded with wheelbarrow. The doctor was very upset and said: "They will die a martyr if they would not get to Abadan." He told me, "find a car and take them back." I said, "Doctor, this is not possible. The city's situation is very confused. No car is found. "The doctor insisted. In order not to weaken his spirit, I came in front of the door. I knew there was no car in the city. I stood in front of the door for a few moments for his relaxation. I leaned on the door and spontaneously invocated to Hazrat Umm Ul-Banin; as if I was inspired to invocate her. I swore her to her four children that find a device to transfer the injured to Abadan. At that moment, I saw a Jeep Wagoneer. I jumped very fast in front of it. We took the wounded to the car. It was supposed I also go along with the wounded. The doctor ordered: "Tell the hospital doctors these injured must be operated right now." We hardly took them to Abadan. The city was besieged. Ba'athists struck the city from all sides. There were very terrible sounds. There was single combat between Iranians and Ba'athists. The car passed through fire. It was slipped a lot due to things on the street floor. I should do a lot of physical activity. I took front of some of the injured body parts. I was aware of them to not damage. I was familiar with the hospital staff, as I took the wounded to Taleghani Hospital, they quickly let me enter. I took the wounded behind the operating room; I called the doctor and told him Dr. Sadeghi order.


Why did hospital staff know you?
I was familiar with the hospital staff for two reasons. One was that after Islamic Revolution, I worked voluntarily in Hygiene Committee of Jihad Sazandegi, and we went to villages like Choo Abdeh, served the people and took villagers who were sick to Taleghani Hospital. The other reason was that they established a department on the Crescent, called "People's Cooperation", with the governorate which its officer was Dr. Karim Salahshour, and they had various cultural, educational, and therapeutic departments, and we were also active in therapeutic department. In fact, we hold Abadan Healthcare. We presented the governor problems of hospitals and they addressed the problems.


What happened after delivering the wounded to the hospital?
I told the driver to wait to return me to Khorramshahr again. We went to Khorramshahr. We mounted a number of troops at entrance of Khorramshahr. As we passed the governorate, Ba'athists, who had hidden among trees, stormed us. First, they shot behind the car and the troops were wounded. Blood waterfall was running behind the car. Then they struck sides of the car and hit toward me and the driver. They shot in front of the car and windshield was broken completely. I insisted the driver, "Go. If you stop we have to be captured! "The driver was flustered and lost his balance, when Ba'athists shot, he stopped indecisively. The forces inside the car also told the driver: "Go."


Which part of your body was injured?
From my shoulder to abdomen; two ballets hit at my body. I was wounded in the evening of October 17, 1980, and on October 18 I was operated in Taleghani Hospital.

How did you save from the enemy's attack?
The troops who were fighting against Ba'athists in a single combat came to help us and opened the way by shooting toward them. We moved toward our own forces. I got off the car to approach the wounded in rear of the car that I got dizzy. I did not understand why I got dizzy. My bleeding was intense and I became unconscious there. They returned us at night to Abadan. The car had very bad moves. I did not see anything and had a lot of pain. I heard people inside the car tell the driver: "The car is in siege, Iraqis are coming!" One told the driver: "If you stop, instead of Baathists, we would shoot you!" they took us to Taleghani Hospital and hospitalized.


After recovery, did you start your activity again?
Yes. I continued as a social worker and in relief in hospitals of Taleghani and Shahid Beheshti. Of course, I was mostly in Taleghani Hospital. Until end of the war, I went to the hospital and, along with these activities, we did cultural works.

Thank you for giving your time to Iranian Oral History Website.


[1] Khamsah Khamsah (it means five five) was a name for Katyusha during Iran-Iraq war. As Iraqi Army had five batteries, Iranian fighters thought there is some cannon that shoot five shells; it was frightening.

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