327th Session of Night of Memory - 1

The Impact of Ashura on Morale of Warriors

Adjusted by Iranian Oral History Website
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


The 327th Session of Memory Night with the theme of "Muharram in War" presented by Hossein Behzadifar was held at Ayatollah Khamenei Mosque on Thursday, August 26, 2021. In this session Messrs. Hossein Estiri and Mohammad Reza Golshani expressed their memories. This session was broadcast on the net in social media of Night of Memory and Hozeh Honari.

At the beginning of his remarks, the presenter introduced the first narrator and said: “In November/December 1984, a 22-year-old man who has not been long since he received the rank of third lieutenant of the Islamic Republic Army, as the commander of a 188-member company, goes to the southern fronts and starts his campaign and defense of the Islamic homeland from heroic Khorramshahr. This defense was carried out until 1988 when there was a war with the Ba'ath regime in Iraq and continued until 1992. This young hero third lieutenant of the Army, today is a colonel who signs of his bravery and chivalry in the holy defense is shown in his white hair because of aging. Let’s continue with Colonel Hussein Estiri, and hear his memories of the holy defense era.

Colonel Hussein Estiri, after condoling for the days of Muharram, began his memoirs with a sentence from the Supreme Leader, saying that: “young people should come to the scene and conduct jihadi management in different scenes.” If we take a quick look at the holy defense, we can see that most of our commanders were young people who, as good, experienced and courageous commanders led the combat units. When I entered the operational areas in 1984, I was a 22-year-old who entered the front very strangely with a small amount of military knowledge that they had trained me. We went first in Khorramshahr and then to Abadan and after that in Operation Badr to Majnun Island in Iraq. From there we went to the 60th Sharhani Hill, Abu Ghraib area, and then Gilan-e Gharb, Baneh, Marivan and finally to Piranshahr. During this time of war, with a company that perhaps numbered 150 to 200 people, I had to move this unit in these operational areas over 1,400 kilometers; a combat company with full equipment, it means in addition to 180 soldiers, various weapons, mortars, telecommunications and medical items, car items, and also ammunition and armory ones should be moved in this route and placed them in the assigned areas.


During 1,400 kilometers, I and my company were always in charge of a kilometer —a little less or more. We were young with a young age and a huge responsibility. Because when a fighter came to the front, he was himself and his gun, and he didn't have a special responsibility, but when you become a commander, 200 people come to you and you will be responsible for everyone. Sometimes it became so hard to work in the operational areas – whether in defense or offensive – and we were under pressure that I would sit in the trenches and cry for my strangeness. But when I was in my private, I remembered the uprising of Karbala and the bravery of Sir Imam Hossein (a.s). Because everything that we as warriors had we had from resort to the Uprising of Karbala. When I wanted to enter the army, before that I was in the Basij, religious teachings made me act strong somehow and keep my chin up; so, while we cried strangely due to the hardships, but through remembering plights of Karbala we were spirited. I remembered the 7th verse of Sura Muhammad which says, "O ye who believe! If ye will aid (The cause of) God, He will aid you, And plant your feet firmly."[1] [1] That's what made me feel like a strong person in a great spirit when I came out of the trenches. When I entered the company and visited my own observation posts in the line of defense, the soldiers no longer saw any weakness in me. They saw that I was a commander with the same consolidation and discipline that runs the unit.



The narrator continued: "I saw a lot of blessings of Imams of God on the battlefields. In an operation called Nusrat 2 conducted by NEZAJA in December 1987, two brigades from the 21st Hamza Division, in the Zubaydat area, summoned our battalion commander to the command station to explain the operation. The company that was on the line of defense was my company. My company was not an operational one, but a defense company, and commando units had to cross our line and recapture the four heights that they had been assigned. When we were summoned to the station post at sunset, there was a military road on the embankment road and our own line, which was not very standard. When I crossed that road, I had always seen a gap leading to a small valley, and I was careful that wheel of our car would not fall into this groove. We went to the battalion commander's station and were justified, and with one of the company officers wanted to go back with a jeep. There was also no driver with us and I had to drive the car myself. Lieutenant Jafarzadeh was also with me and in the back of the jeep, writer of our company was a soldier who took the letters from the battalion's station post and came with us. Now it gets dark, and behind the line of defense, which was supposed to be an operation at midnight, we had to go with off lights. We were going with off lights, while we saw a Toyota from one of warrior brothers had turned on the light and the light stroke at my eye. Naturally, when light strike your eyes in absolute darkness, human vision diminishes. I told Lieutenant Jafarzadeh what a reckless person who has turned lights and does not consider that now enemy mortars will be firing towards insiders and embankments.

As I was talking to him and light of that Toyota stroke at my eye, I went unconsciously toward that gap and noticed that the wheel of our car, which was a KM Jeep, was heading for the gap. This type of Jeep hasn’t a proper shield, and its body is a tent that is kept by a few bars. The wheel of the car fell into that groove and the car turned back. I thought it then moves to the left side and it stops and everything would be ok. But the car turned around and it somersaulted. As soon as we it somersaulted, I realized it was too dangerous and I told unconsciously O’ Imam Reza. Again, the car overturned for a second time. I said again O’ Imam Reza. Three times the car overturned. The car stopped, but in a way that back of it was on the ground and the wheels toward the road; now in that darkness I didn't know who was alive and who was injured! But when I opened the car door, I was healthy. The other two people also got off safely. When we looked at the car, we saw that the conditions of the car and road were such that there might be still something worse to happen. In my opinion, I felt that Imam Reza helped us. When we got off, letters with the writer of the company, who had taken folder of received letters from the battalion's outpost, had been spread out in the desert. His nose was bleeding and he was running for the letters. I said don't worry about the letters. I am responsible for it. When it gets light and clear, we can come and collect these letters. Overturning a car under normal conditions is also dangerous, but in this event even our hands and legs weren’t broken. I believe Imam Reza (a.s) heard our cry and saved us. After that the guys of The Construction Jihad came and took the Jeep out of that valley. It was interesting that the car was turned on again and we were able to get in it.

The narrator continued: "We had 213,000 martyrs during the war. If we divide this number between organizations and the armed forces, 90,000 martyrs are for our beloved Basij, 33,000 are from our brave IRGC and 48,000 are from The Islamic Republic of Iran Army (AJA). But the point that unfortunately has been less addressed is that we never paid attention to the martyrs of the gendarmerie and municipality. These two institutions had reached the revolution since the Pahlavi regime, and immediately entered the war. Then the Islamic Revolutionary Committee is an institution that was formed to protect cities, and that institution entered also to the war. These three organs had about 8,000 martyrs in the holy defense, which I see to be paid very little. They have been suffered wrong. Also, the martyrs of The Construction Jihad, who spontaneously and courageously came with heavy equipment such as graders and loaders, and helped the warriors in constructing roads, bridges and barricades. The Construction Jihad had 3,000 martyrs, but we say less about them, because three forces of gendarmerie, police and the Islamic Revolution Committee formed NAJA after 1990, there is less spoken about their martyrs. About 2000 martyrs are our Afghan brothers who came to help us during the holy defense days. There are 11,000 martyrs of our Sunni brothers who participated in the war and died a martyr. We have 147 Armenian, Jewish, Ashuri and Christian martyrs, that even one of my martyred soldiers was Armenian. He was very polite, and in Operation Karbala-6, which took place in the Sumar area and by the army ground forces, the martyr was in observation post and he was beheaded by enemy tank shots. Prior to his martyrdom, he was a person of passion and courage and very progressive. It was strange to me that he sacrificed so sincerely. I saw this soldier's sacrifice in the different areas that accompanied me. God of the World chose this servant and he died a martyr in 1986 and Operation Karbala-6.

At the end, Colonel Estiri summed up his talk by referring to the month of Muharram and said, "Maybe if it weren't the uprising of Ashura, our fighters wouldn't have sacrificed that kind. Imam Khomeini has a beautiful sentence that says: Imam Hussein (PBUH) is reviver of religion of Islam, from the beginning of Islam to the Doomsday. This sentence is very meaningful. The Supreme Leader also refers to the uprising of Ashura and that our warriors resorted to the courage of Imam Hossein (a.s), and says: "Islam is definitely alive because of Ashura and Hosayn ibn Ali.” One of these measures is the same traditional mourning that brings more people to religion. Our warriors were able to create those great epics by approaching the Imams.


[1] translation of the 7th verse of Muhammad is from Yusuf Ali which is available from: https://quranyusufali.com/47/

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