The 317th Night of Memory – 1

A Narrative of an Operation

Compiled by: Iranian Oral History Website
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


Note: The 317th Night of Memory was broadcast online on the Aparat website on Thursday, September 28, 2020. In this program, Commander Assadollah Mir-Mohammadi and General Jafar Jahroutizadeh shared their memories, and Davood Salehi was the presenter.

The first narrator of this Night of Memory was commander Assadollah Mir-Mohammadi imprisoned in Abu Ghraib and Al-Rasheed prisons for about ten years; without the Red Cross was aware of his attendance in these prisons. During this period, he had no contact with his family, and after his release and return to Iran, he did not find his family very soon. Memoirs of Mir-Mohammadi about ten years of captivity collected in a book entitled "You Won't End."

Commander Mir-Mohammadi began his speech by telling his memory on September 22, 1980. "At noon of that day," said he," I was walking from my workplace in Vanak Square, where today is the headquarters of the police force, to my house in Shahr-e Rey.I was a telecommunications and electronics engineer at that time and had specialized training courses, both in the US Army and at RF Communications plants in Rochester. As I got out of the car, I saw the sky and the Iraqi flag under the wings of the planes that were maneuvering in the area, and I realized that they were Iraqis.

During the one month that I attended in the war front from October 25 to November 24, I took responsibility for the operation because we had failed in the previous operation due to the misinformation we had, and we had tried to gather information and find the enemy's passage and infiltrative ways with the help of many brave troops I trained. As we were doing it from the north of the Iraqi forces, some people were doing the same thing from the south until we reached 4 km from the enemy. In the last talk about what to do, I believed that we could not directly drive the enemy forces out of the concrete bulwarks they had built. Therefore, it is necessary to pass some brave forces at night, through the barbed wire of the border points (the points that we had found) to disrupt inside the enemy headquarters; even at the cost of their martyrdom. When this happens, other forces would intervene. The comrades said that it was good to inform martyr Chamran, who was the commander of the irregular forces. Three days before my captivity, he arrived, and it was about 3 a.m. we set out to show he the points we had found to reach the enemy, and he would tell us whether they were right or wrong.

It was almost Twilight when he saw and confirmed all the places. They told us to go back, but I said no; because the It was still light, the Iraqis would see us and shoot. We were sitting at the reed bed, he raised his head to see what was going on; at that moment we were shot by the Iraqis and he sat down and said:" what should we do now?" I said that it was the best chance to listen to his memories for a whole day. We prayed the noon and evening prayers with his imamate in a sitting posture. It was getting dark when we decided to go back. He showed a point and said that if we went in this way, it would be easier for irregular fighting forces to enter the front.

The next day, we went there with the help of reconnaissance forces and, with God's help, captured that point. Since we were so close to the enemy, it was so difficult that brigadier general Fallahi informed me to come back. "Commander! We got to a good point and place," told him by radio. Immediately I turned off the radio and disconnected. Then a senior commander of another unit called me on the radio and said that the brigadier general Fallahi had commanded us to come back. I said that I could not say "no" to him; but we would capture here and it would be the ascent point of the soldiers of Islamic Iran, or if we couldn't do it, it would be a place of martyrdom and a relic of us would remain on the war front.

It was about one-thirty or two in the afternoon when I felt cannonballs and tanks coming from behind us. At first, I thought the Iraqis had attacked us from behind us; I went back and saw that they were our tanks which were British ones and their cannons were moving well. After they reached us, they said that the brigadier general Fallahi had ordered them to come with all their might and join you at any cost.

At night, I found out that colonel Lotfi, the head of the 3rd pillar of the headquarters operation, had come there and martyr Chamran had told him some points and that he wanted to check the situation in the area again. After a short rest, we woke up and walked with him with a regular observation team. We stopped the team in a place and we, two people, went forward, and he also confirmed with radio and informed the headquarters that all this was good and there was no problem. They wanted to come back, but I said it was light, the enemy would see us. He said we must return. You must start operations tomorrow night. We got up and started moving in the same reed bed that we were with martyr Chamran the day before.

He had a camera in hand and I saw dust coming from behind the barbed wire of Iraq. 6 tanks and 6 personnel carriers were coming towards us. We started running towards the reeds. Twenty, thirty meters as we ran, I saw that a machine gun had injured the colonel and he fell on the ground. I was not injured and I was lying on the floor thinking about what to do. The colonel had a J3 rifle and I had a pistol; as my experience, I said me that if I got the rifle, the Iraqis would finally have to get their tanks off and catch me; therefore and I could shoot and keep them away.

I crawled to the colonel Lotfi; it was on the second or third crawl that I found my left hand no longer come with me. I felt that a missile had taken and cut it away. I did feel pain at all. After that, the Iraqis stopped shooting. I got up and I found that my arm was broken, but not cut off; the skin and muscles were still there. I put my hand into my coat’s pocket.

It didn't take more than forty seconds; I tried to move towards the J3 rifle. After some crawls, my right foot no longer was able to move; I touched it and saw that it was bloody. I do not know how it happened. Army pants’ legs are a bit tight. We were taught that if our foot was injured, we would tear these tight pants’ legs a little and bring it up and bandaged your foot; I got up to do this, but Iraqis captured me from behind. During the few seconds that I had been shooting, the Iraqi truck came behind me and they tied me from the chest to feet with the rope they had in the truck, and put me in the truck and took me toward their forces.

Before leaving that place, the Iraqis went over colonel Lotfi's body and turned around; I was still watching. I saw his face. He had a white face with big eyes and a smile on his face. His face was perfectly uninjured, but all the muscles and ribs protruded from his chest. He was martyred but he was laughing. When the Iraqis found out that he had been martyred, they moved and took me with them.

I had my ID card in my pocket and a  rank of major on my clothes. At the first checkpoint, around 11 o'clock, they saw my ID card, which was in the hands of the officer in charge of the tank, and it was told to move it quickly, and we were dealing with him and he should not die. At 1 pm, I found myself on a stretcher in the hallway of Basra Hospital. Several doctors and nurses were around me and took my clothes off. I still did not understand what had happened to me.

One of the doctors above me counted to 6 in English. I also asked him what he meant. He replied that that was, six parts of your body were broken and your leg was hit by a bullet. I was taken to the operating room and they used anesthesia to operate me. A few moments later, a doctor came and asked in English, "Do you have a wife?" I said if you want to know if I passed out or not, not yet. He laughed and said that he was still conscious, and then I passed out.

At 6 p.m., I was taken out of the operating room and taken to a prison cell in the same ward. There was one bed. An Iraqi armed guard was also in the cell. They closed the cell door and left. I looked and saw that there was still some sunlight coming from the window. I said to me that I did pray the noon and evening prayers; I asked the Iraqi guard with great effort about the qibla[1]. He also showed the direction of qibla. My body was covered in blood. I tapped my hand on the wall next to the bed, performed ablution, and prayed my noon and afternoon prayers. When my prayer was over, the soldier started cursing the Prophet, Imam Hussein, Imam Ali, and Imam Khomeini. Then, as the last one, he cursed me. Since I could not do anything, I started praying so that God give me patience. Then another guard came into the cell, who did not ask me questions or talk to me until morning. When I opened my eyes in the morning, I saw that the previous guard had returned. When they closed the door, he took a package from his pocket and said it was mine. "What is this?" said I. "I went home at night and slept. My home is in Basra. I told my mother that, in this war and struggles, a major asked me about the qibla, then he put his bloody hands on the wall and prayed" said he, "my mother asked me where his hands were when he prayed, and I answered that his hands were on feet. My mother said that he was a Shiite and we were also Shiites, I shouldn't insult him. I told my mother it was a war, but my mother said that she would never forgive me if I do something against him. She said Saddam was at war with Iranians; I had no war with them, I should be a guard and careful not to escape. Anyway, my mother gave me a lot of advice and I thought about what to do with you; I found that the best thing was to have a radio in exile to listen to Abadan radio." He prepared a radio for me.

At first, I did not accept the radio from him and said that he would leave here after an hour and another one would come and they would come and take this radio from me. I was not worried about being be tortured, I was afraid to put pressure on me and ask who gave this radio you and then harass or kill you. He put the radio on my pillow and said that even if they tortured him a lot, maybe you would be satisfied." Oh my God, what happened?" said I to me," who changed this person?" See, what God was doing in this war, how many times does God accept my prayer using an impure wall to do ablution, and it turns the enemy into a friend?!"

Mir-Mohammadi recounted his memories after his release and said:" When I arrived in Iran, they took us to Firoozeh Palace - the air force barracks - for health quarantine, and to know what we were doing in captivity; because there was no news about us during these years. I later found out that my family had changed their living place.

Again, when I arrived in Tehran, I was asked for the address. They said that my family left that address. One or two prisoners were released; I addressed some of the released prisoners, who were from Shah Abdul Azim; they went. They came back and said that your family left here a few years ago and the neighbors did too. The people on the street do not even know my family. Finally, on the fourth day - i.e. September 19 - they called me from the gate of barracks that my wife had come to find you.

My son was 4 years old when I was captured and he was a 14-year-old boy when I was released. Two women and two boys came in front of the gate I knew my wife even though she was old. I asked her who they were. She said that one of them was the wife of martyrs of the gendarmerie who had been in your battalion for a few days and then was martyred. One of these two teenagers was my son and another was his classmate, who is the son of the same lady. I did not know which one was my son. When I greeted my wife, she said to one of the boys: "Reza! He is your dad!" He did not come to me. "No, he is not my dad; my dad was handsome," said he," I took the photo of him and I have it in my room, it's not my dad". I asked my wife a few questions related to family; this boy heard and slowly came forward and hugged me and put his head on my shoulders and cried.

He rested his head on my shoulder for a few moments and cried, then raised his head. "He is my dad!" said he to my wife. "Why did you accept?" said I.  "You don't look like your picture at all, but when I talked to my mother, I realized you are my dad," said he, "I have not seen my mother talk to a strange man in one step distance during 10 years, and when I rested my head on your shoulders after 10 years, felt comfortable; I have uncles, they loved me very much, but I was not so comfortable with them." Who is your friend with you?" raised I my head and asked. "He is the son of martyr Ebrahimi." said he.  I wanted the earth to open up and I die because the son of martyr Ebrahimi heard from my son that a person rests in his father's arms and this son won't have these arms in this world until the end of his life. I was ashamed of this boy. Then I sent my wife to go home. I told them to be ready the next morning so that I could see how many of these released captives would find their families by tomorrow morning. Those who could not find their family would be your guests; and I would bring them home. Here they should not stay outside without any family and friends; those who were in the war suffered a lot. There are many such cases, but God helped us, and you tried and released us. It was difficult, but it went well. I pray to God to give honor and greatness to this nation, to preserve our leader, and to guide all the enemies of true Islam to the right path."


[1] The qibla is the direction towards the Kaaba in the Sacred Mosque in Mecca, which is used by Muslims in various religious contexts, particularly the direction of prayer for the salah.

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