The 304th Night of Memory-4

An Operation Which Was Not Like Other Operations

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


According to Iranian Oral History Website, the 304th Memory Night of Holy Defense was held in Sooreh Hall of Hozeh Honari in the evening Thursday, July 25, 2019. In the session, Bakhshali Alizadeh, Ibrahim Khodabandeh, and Mohammad Hashem Mosaheb narrated memories about People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Monafeqin) and Operation Mersad. In the first and second parts of this report, you read memories of Bakhshali Alizadeh and Ibrahim Khodabandeh.
Mohammad Hashem Mosaheb was the third narrator of the 304th Night of Memory. He was an 18 year Basij youth who had participated in the holy defense. He was also present in operations such as Karbala-5, Karbala-10 and Mersad. Mosaheb remarked, "I date back to a few weeks before Operation Mersad, when we were in Dokuhe Garrison. In the morning they announced that get your equipment. The guys got their guns. Buses were usually brought for dispatch to the operations and they mudded their glasses and harassment operations were carried out. For example, buses would go to Khorramshahr, and we would get on the truck and head west. Iraq thought there was going to be an operation in the south, but we did operation in the west. That is, they tried to deceive Iraqis. Dump trucks were brought according to plan and we went into them like sandbags. All the dump trucks had been stayed in Dokuhe Garrison. As we waited, we saw the cars didn't move. The air temperature was about 49°c. We were all of a sweat in those dumps with a metal body. It was about 11 o'clock. We asked: Why don't you move? They said, 'Brothers, please get off, surrender arms presently, and have a rest. We go in the afternoon. We asked: Is the operation canceled? They said: We announce you. We surrendered the weapons and waited to see what was going on.
I have been on the committees of Islamic Revolution from almost when I knew myself and entered the war, and I was very arch. My mother tells me: "You were so hyperactive and it was very difficult to control you." I couldn't be quiet at all; it was very hard for me. I went to Haji Hasan Mohaqeq, commander of Habib ibn Madhahir Battalion. Haji Ali Sadeghi, commander of Abuzar Battalion seated there too. I said to Haji Ali: Is there any news? He said, "You are here again?" I asked: So what do I do? We got bored. He said, "Can't you sit quiet for a bit?" I said, what should we do now? He said, "We'll tell you. I asked: was the operation canceled? He said, "Sir, go!" We'll let you know. I came back and the guys asked me: What happened? I said, I don't know. In the afternoon, the speakers were turned on and the news presenter read a statement from Imam Khomeini. End of the war was not annoying for us. We might even be happy for end of the war, but the Imam's statement was too heavy and hard for us. Imam tried to comfort us. All building of Dokuhe Garrison was crying too. It was very difficult for us at that moment that Imam tried to undertake all responsibilities. We asked: What happened? They said: Nothing! The war is over. We said, what should we do now? They said: Be there until we inform you. We stayed for two days and then told the guys to come and get their final form. We had many questions in mind. We went back to Tehran to see what was our assignment.

I told this introduction to know that not long time passed. A few days had passed that God bless him, martyr Alireza Tavakoli, who was from the Marine Corps, rushed in and said, "I'm leaving." We asked: Where are you going? He said: Monafeqin have attacked the line. We asked: Isn't the war over? He said no! The guys have been told to get ready and come. Because then I was in educational affairs and education's headquarters of the war, I immediately went to the general office and said we were going. Many still hadn't been informed and didn't know what had happened. The chief of the war staff was Mr. Gholamali Asgharian. He said: Take a sheet for me and Mr. Hussein Mozaffar, we will come too. Mr. Mozaffar was then Director General of Education in Tehran and later became Minister of Education. I asked: Are you coming with us now? He said: No, we will come after you. We took the sheets and with Mr. Ezzatollah Abbasi, Head of Education of Tehran District 15, Mr. Mohammad Tutunchian, Director General of Education Examinations, and Mr. Mohammad Javad Sediqian, who was in charge of the war headquarters, we were five to six people that took a Toyota Land Cruiser and went to a war zone with some pharmaceutical supply.
When we got into Dokuhe Garrison, we saw a lot of guys had arrived and were taking equipment. We asked: what should we do? They said, 'Get your equipment, we'll probably move this afternoon. Monafeqin are near garrison of Allah Akbar and are coming towards Ilam. Perhaps the first division that entered the fight against Monafeqin was 27th Muhammad Rasulullah Division. We took equipment. They said some buses and trucks had arrived. Because the war had been finished, harassment operation wasn't operated. Aa number of friends and I had chance of getting on the bus. They said guys of Wahab Company get on the bus. Three to four hours after we arrived, Mr. Mozaffar also came to Wahab Company and joined us. Haji Mozaffar asked: What equipment did you get? I said, as usual RPG. He said, "Well, I'll be your helper." I said no! It's bad. He said no! Let's go together. Haji Agha sat down next to me. The bus had stayed from 4 to 8 p.m. and didn't move. In short, we moved and went into the middle of a desert. We didn't know where we were. They brought food. It was the first and last warm meal we ate in the next 10 to 15 days. During those days we were either given Madar Biscuits (mom's biscuits) or canned tuna or canned beans. There was no bread too. They said: They want to bring dinner. We asked: What is it? They said: it is hot dinner. I turned to Haji and said: Haji it is over! He asked: What is it? I said: Today or tomorrow we all will die a martyr. Usually the night they bring hot food and the food is a little good, the next day some guys would die a martyr surely. There was warm rice in small plastic containers. I said to Haji: I can't eat in this way. RPG bag was on my back and my waist was surrounded by grenades. I held a RPG in my hand too. Distance of the seat buses was also narrow. I was going to get off to eat food that the person who was in charge of the bus said, 'No one can get off. Eat here. We want to move. One of the guys said, 'The last window of the bus is open, so let's go out from there. We both got off through the last window of the bus. Everywhere was dark and we didn't see anywhere. We sat next to the car and had the food. Suddenly we saw the car moved. We shouted and the car director got off. "Where were you?" He asked. We said we had come out to eat outside the car. He asked: Are you among Monafeqin? We said no, swear by Hazrat Abbas! We are of the company guys and had come out to eat food. It took about half an hour that they found someone to prove we were not of Monafeqin. Then they said, everybody get off.' They ordered all to sit down and stand up. We thought they punished all because of us. They ordered stand up and fall in. Everyone knew that at night when they order to sit down and stand up or give a command, no one chant during performance. Mr. Tutunchian, who was behind me, said loudly, "Allahu Akbar! The commander suddenly shouted at him and said, "Sit down sir! Quiet! You are far from the line about 500 to 600 meters! Shout, it's well they discern and come and spray you with bullets. They gave everyone a white cloth and said, "Wrap it around your left wrist." We asked why. They said because Monafeqin have worn clothes exactly like yours. With the same look you have, with the same appearance and with the same Keffiyeh have entered the operation, and even some of them like you there is something written on back of their clothes. To identify who is of Monafeqin and who is not, we discern through the same wristband and white fabric that you wraps it around your left wrist. They said this fabric has been given to all battalions.

We heard sound of shootout near the front line. The front line was not like the regular lines that we stood behind bulwark. We went in the main road and were near Chahar Zebar Strait (after the operation Islamic Republic called it Mersad Strait). We went further. The sound was heard from a far distance. We arrived near Ilam. Cars were evacuated. They told the guys to be entrenched. It was night and we didn't know where we were entrenched. When it became a little lighter, we saw that we were on back of dirty side of the road. We settled there and heard shootout was very loudly. We heard sound of mortars from the front. Muslim ibn Aqil Battalion had attacked the line. We were told that Habib ibn Madhahir Battalion attacks the line after Muslim Battalion; Meqdad and Muslim Battalions had headed, you stay here until we order. We were in back of dirty side of the road and we heard sound of shootout and quiver above us. We said to ourselves if Monafeqin are in rear and Muslim Battalion is ahead, then why the bullets are coming towards us? Maybe they have conquered Muslim Battalion and advanced?
It was about 8 or 9 a.m. The guys of the battalion had realized that Haji Mozaffar who was coming with us was the Director General of Education, and the people who were with us were mostly Chiefs of Education. The guys who were next to me were 15, 16 or 17 years old. They asked me constantly: Is this the one who came with you, the Director General of Education? Can you tell him to give me a pass? I would say, here, on the back of bulwark, under shootout and quiver, say give you what a pass?! We had set up a training complex in various areas such as Dokuhe, Arvand and in the midst of Hoor Al-Azim as training camps of the fighters. In Hoor complex, we had placed a few suspension bridges on each other and had put tents upon them. When the guys had no operation, they would come there and were taught a little. Some kids knew I was a teacher. They told me: Can I read some history with you now? I used to say: come off it, in the midst of shootout it is not good time to read history. Haji Ali Sadeghi called me and said: Tell Mr. Mozaffar to return and go back. I asked: Why? He said: "He is the Director General of Education and we don't think fit that he goes to the front." I said: He is a veteran of conquest of Khorramshahr. Before you and I got into the front, he had been here and had been wounded and become a veteran now you say he doesn't come now? He said: This is not the story at all. His brothers have died a martyr. I asked: his brothers? Which one? He said: I think three or four of his brothers have died a martyr. Surprisingly I asked: Who did say this? He told: The camp has said this person should not go forward, because if he dies a martyr, it would be very difficult for his family. Go tell him to come back. I went to Mr. Asgharian, who was in charge of the war logistic headquarters and said: "We have to cause Hajj Mozaffar to go back, as if his brothers had died a martyr." Mr. Qasem Karegar and Mr. Qasem Soleymani were to come and justify Mr. Mozaffar. I called Mr. Mozaffar and brought him to behind the bulwark. Behind our bulwark was a village. No food was available and this situation bothered everyone. Mr. Mozaffar said, "I no longer can eat biscuits. I'm really sick of eating biscuits. I went into that village and saw that there was a cote, but no animal was there. I saw that a little press cake had been poured. I went closer and saw a piece of Sangak bread was in it. I smelt and it didn't have any bad waft. I cleaned it with my pants and took it with myself. As soon as I arrived, Mr. Mozaffar asked surprisedly: Where did you find this? Emphasizing one of the guys said: Tell from where you brought it! I said: Haji, nothing. He said he had gone and stolen it in front of the cows! Mr. Mozaffar said: thanks very much, you bring cow food for us?!" I said: Haji, I touched it and I saw it was not moldy and was eatable; instead of these biscuits it can be eaten. Shortly, we had such stories.

We forced Haji to go back and we sent him to the same village. Mr. Karegar and Mr. Soleymani said you are forbidden to go. We were ordered from the camp that Mr. Mozaffar must return and cannot go to the operation. Haji said: What does it mean? What are you saying? I have also told the minister and he has no problem with that I'm here. We all gulped. Haji turned and looked at us and asked, "Is there something?" Haji Qasem Soleymani said: "We have to give some explanation." Haji stated: "I'm ready for whatever happened to my brothers, my father and everyone else. The day Mr. Mosaheb went to get the orders, my mother called my four brothers, my father and I and she said, "an operation has been carried out, Monafeqin have attacked the frontline and entered the country, I am not content with you to go and return safely. You go and don't come back until the borders would be free." He said: Haji! Reza, Hassan and Ali have died a martyr. He asked: What about my father? He replied: Your father is also at Zeid Police Station and has not come yet. We had a gamucha. We had split it. Haji was fanning himself by gamucha, we were just crying and Haji was just looking at us. Haji said: "I have told my friends that I am up to the end."  Qasem Soleymani told, "We are not allowed at all and we cannot let you go forward." We need to get you back from here. Finally, Haji Qasem Soleymani said, "We have also brought back the bodies too, so at least identify them and bring them back. Haji Mozaffar said: "My mother told until the operation wouldn't finish, I would not like your corpses to be returned." Return the bodies; I'm here. We insisted on and Haji denied. Finally, we forcibly returned him with Mr. Asgharian. They arrived and saw that only Reza's body had been brought and Hasan and Ali's corpses had been remained. Hasan and Ali had got caught in offensive retreat. It took until the next day that they could bring the bodies. When Haji returned, we went forward.

We settled in the bulwark. Haji Ali Sadeghi said RPG shooters stand up ten minutes later. When armored cars are coming from the front, they should fire. They had brought some cars which were Brazilian. One of students who were with us was about 16 to 17 years old. He would ask me constantly some question and I would say: When we go back, we will talk. When Haji Hossein Mozaffar went, they said: the student is your RPG helper. When we shot RPG we usually had a bag ourselves and a bag was for helper. First of all, we shot RPGs of helper. It was common among RPG shooters that if you shoot your RPG bullets and then there would be a space between you and your helper, you can do nothing and he cannot give you shot. I justified this guy to be close to me and don't move so that I use his bullets, and when his bullets finished, he stays and I would go forward. He stood up brashly, and I saw his eye was shot. I called the rescue guys and they moved him back. I was very worried for him. He was so young. They said: The bullet had passed next to his head. My brother was a rescuer. They had stood in a bus in Chahar Zebar. The guys who were in critical condition were taken by bus, mounted on helicopters, and turned them back. Later he told me: a bullet had stuck one of the kids eye - and I definitely understood it was my own troops- when they brought him, whatever I put bandage and cotton on his eyes, blood didn't stop. Before the helicopter flies, he perished. We had to pick him up in the bus and other guys who were in bad situation on a helicopter.

In the following of the operation, we were told all to lie before attacking the line and Habib ibn Madhahir starts the operation. A series of Havānīrūz (Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation) helicopters came under command of brave commander of Islam, Martyr Sayyad Shirazi. Monafeqin had attacked linear and in the lines which was very ridiculous. They intended to come to Tehran in the same way and seize there! All their cars were in the middle of the road. Havaniruz fired all their cars. The volume of explosions was so great that we lay for a few minutes on the bulwark so that the explosion fire to be quenched. Then they told us retreat quickly, because the fuel vehicles they had brought might explode and burn the whole area. We retreated a little further. About an hour and a half passed. The fires were quenched and they said, "The operation is over." Monafeqin have fled and entered Ilam, go there for purging Ilam from Monafeqin. We arrived at Ilam, there was full of corpse. I asked an old man: Are those killed Monafeqin or ordinary people? He said: When Monafeqin came, they would say anyone who has a beard is a Hezbollah (an Iranian movement formed at the time of the Iranian Revolution, means party of God) member or a Pasdar (IRGC force) and they either decapitated or killed. We went toward Ilam hospital and saw they had committed a crime there. We had to empty the beds. We put aside those who had been struck coup de grace fired so that we could bring some of the injured. Then they said: We have no facilities here to treat all the injured, just bring the outpatient injured. Take those who are in critical situation back in order to being delivered to Tehran. There, I was told that Maryam Rajavi had fled by helicopter from the end of Islamabad-e Garb, but I later read that Massoud and Maryam Rajavi had neither come nor directed their forces from afar. Islamabad purging was half-finished when we were told: Because a group of them have worn our guy clothes, you have to stay here for two to three days to purging them. They had abandoned their cars on a hill overlooking Mersad Strait and close to the city and had fled. Some of their cars had been exploded also on the road. We had nothing to do with those cars and intended to look at them when we want to purge. They had come at the end of night. It appeared their documents and information and stuffs were in those cars or they wanted to use those cars to leave the area. They got in the cars. As soon as they started the cars, car lights were turned on and the guys quickly realized that some of Monafeqin had come and gone toward the cars. Night clash began and we were engaged in the hills for about two to three hours. We didn't see them, but there was shooting at the cars. When the conflict was over, we went ahead and saw the cars had been perforated like a colander, but no news of their troops.

We were supposed to sleep in the same area. Summers of that part of the country are very hot and have many mosquitoes. When we wanted to sleep, mosquitoes attacked the guys. They were engaged the operation from morning to the night and at night the mosquitoes had bored the guys to tear. I had an overcoat which was in my backpack. The only thing that came to my mind was that I took it off and put it on in that heat. I also put my hands into its sleeves. I also had worn a war hat that I entered in in my overcoat too. I had been like a saddlebag. I fell asleep. Usually my friends know me as a person with good sleep. I fall sleep very easily in any situation; during shootout and firing mortars, on boulders, up the mountain, etc. That night also I was in a deep sleep that one of the friends suddenly beat me and said, "You made us nervous. We don't sleep despite these mosquitoes, how did you sleep? I said: since you can't sleep, shouldn't I sleep too? A few minutes later Mr. Abbasi called me and said, "Did you sleep seriously?" If this is the case, we won't let you sleep, because everyone has got bored and you not only slept easily, snore too! I was on a boulder. A bag was on my back and I had slept! We were told in the morning that Islamabad-e Garb complex had been purged; we stay here for one to two day and then returned. After a few days we went back to Dokuhe Garrison and rested. At rest, I got bored very soon. I said to the commander, "Let's have a mourning ceremony. Muharram was near. I said: We coordinate to go to Dezful and bring the guys to Sabz-e Ghaba for mourning. The commander agreed. Ja'far Mohtashem was commander of the army's logistics. I told him: Can they make food for Habib and Meghdad and Salman battalion guys? We want to set up a congregation in Sabz-e Ghaba. He asked: have anybody said something? I said: I have coordinated with Haji Hasan Mohaqeq and Haji Ali Sadeghi and they all are informed. He said, "Go do your coordination. We went quickly and coordinated with Sabz-e Ghaba charge. They welcomed us and said that we provide all the facilities and you just provide us raw materials. We brought the raw materials and they made food. In summary, all the guys of the battalions who were in Dokuhe Garrison had been taken to Dezful. The guys got off on the way, mourned and we ate dinner. The next day, both Haji Ali Sadeghi and I were reprimanded. They said to me: who did allow you take ten thousand troops?' If Saddam's forces had understood and bombed the whole road, what would have happened? Haji Ali Sadeghi was reprimanded more than me. If those forces were attacked and struck, the enemy would be able to operate again because it would know had killed many Basij fighters there!"

The 304th Memory Night session of Sacred Defense, organized by the Center for Studies and Research on Resistance Culture and Literature and the Office for Literature and Art of Resistance, was held in Sooreh Hall of Hozeh Honari on Thursday, July 25, 2019. The next session will be held on August 29.

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