The 337th Session of ‘Night of Memorials’ - 3

“Closed Door Period”

Sepideh Kholousian
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian


The 337th session of ‘Night of Memorials’ was held on Thursday, July 28, 2022, entitled ‘Closed Door Period’, in the Soureh Hall of the Hozeh Honari, performed by Davoud Salehi.  "Haj Seyed Ali Akbar Abutorabi" and witnesses of the Operation Mersad attended this event.


Then, the presenter pointed to the audiences and said: “This event has two types of audience; first, there is a generation of veterans, who participated in the war and the front, and they are gathered here to review their memories; and second, there is another generation, the teenagers and young people who are in this event and listen to these memories. We have two missions: narrating our memories, and giving information to teenagers, whose number is not small. So, this time we begin to talk about Operation Mersad.”

The presenter added: “When the war was over and the resolution had been accepted, the hypocrites attacked the west of the country with the support of Iraq. When we talk about Operation Marsad, it means that the enemy who is fighting with us, speaks the same language as us, and maybe they once were our neighbours, maybe they were one of our own relatives who has deviated on the way, and has been drawn to the Mujahideen. We are no longer fighting with someone who does not speak the same language as us, and this makes the Operation Marsad very complicated. The second point is that the Operation Morsad was commanded by Martyr Ali Sayad Shirazi in the Iranian side, and by Masoud Rajavi in the other side. In one point, we see that the hypocrites want to withdraw, but Martyr Sayad Shirazi does not allow it and blocks the way, so causes a lot of casualties among the opposing forces. There we just find out why and how Sayad Shirazi was martyred and by whom and for what reason. In the end, it should be said that 304 of our fighters were martyred in the Operation Mersad, but more than 2000 hypocrites were killed, 16 of whom were the commanders of this group.”

The presenter then introduced the second narrator and said: “The second narrator, who has a master's degree in engineering, became a member of the university's Islamic Association during his studies in England. He is one of those students who worked hard to form the administrative unit for the mosque, advertise for Lebanon, and etc. In 1978, when the revolution was won, Masoud Rajavi's agents started to advertise for moving to abroad in order to attract audiences. One of those countries was England. In those days, the narrator is influenced by the propaganda of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization; those who claimed that the Islamic revolution came with the slogans of independence, freedom, and the Islamic Republic, but none of them have been realized and are not going to be realized. That's why they try to draw people with this thought. He is attracted to this group and from the beginning of year 1359 (April 1980), he devotes his whole life to the organization, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for a period of 23 years. He leaves his two-year-old daughter, his wife and family members one by one, and dedicates all his wealth to the Mojahedin Organization, because they had put this thought into his head that he was fighting in the divine way and in serving people. It would be great now that we talk about Operation Mersad and the events after the resolution, once again to review the memories from the angle of "Operation Forough Javidan" and from the perspective of the members of that group.”

Then, Ebrahim Khodabandeh, one of the former staffs of the international relations department of the People's Mojahedin Organization, who was the second narrator of the ‘Night of Memorials’, said: “The subject of this session is an operation, entitled “Forough Javidan”, which carried out by the Mojahedin Organization on July 24, 1988, and its counterattack from Iran, known as "Operation Mersad" which means ‘ambush’. In order to know more about it, I tell you a short introduction.

When the initial strategies of Masoud Rajavi, which was the quick overthrow of the Islamic Republic, followed by other plans such as going to Paris, other assassinations, cutting people's fingers, and actions of this kind, failed, several American journalists came to visit Masoud Rajavi in Paris. In that meeting, unlike all meetings, Masoud Rajavi spoke to reporters without an interpreter, relied on his knowledge of English. In the next meetings, they themselves brought translators, and it was clear that they were not journalists. After that Masoud decided to go to Iraq. Later it became clear that the CIA handed over Masoud Rajavi to the head of Iraqi intelligence, and some actions is to be done by Iraqis. Then the National Liberation Army was formed and a group of troops were brought and the things continued.

The plan they made was that first, the hill-climbing operation, then the border operation in Fakah called "Operation Aftab", and then "Operation Chelcheragh" in Mehran to be taken place. It was supposed to be an operation to occupy Kermanshah in the early fall of 1988, and that place became a base for the next actions, and finally the conquering Tehran. Everything had been provided. We also had several strategic classes in which they introduced a tactic called “Blinken”[1], which means “Blink”. They said this was the same tactic used by the Hitler for conquering France in six days. With this tactic, they wanted to go through the road and capture Kermanshah in a flash, without using tracked vehicles. Because when Kermanshah were taken and we entered the society and were among the people, it would be difficult to take back Kermanshah from us. We experienced a similar tactic later in the war with ISIS in capturing Mosul in Iraq, and Aleppo in Syria. This means that classical forces cannot defend and resist against such an attack. Before the armored artillery could do anything, they crossed these lines.

The operation started when the Iraqis opened the embankment. It was under the control of Iraq up to Sarpol-e Zahab, and they opened the embankment from there. The forces of the Mojahedin Organization also went to Kellen and Islamabad through the main road, captured these areas, and then moved towards Kermanshah. Iran's artillery and armor could not do anything. This movement took place within a few days, and if it was not for the command of martyr Ali Sayad Shirazi, Kermanshah would have been captured. Masoud Rajavi repeatedly declared that he had a grudge against Ali Sayad Shiraz, and finally, he kept saying that he would take revenge on him. That is, his main obstacle was martyr Sayad Shirazi. How was he the main obstacle? He came and immediately abandoned the classic army and went into action with Heliborne, Kalashnikova, PKC, RPG and of course ambush, with his genius and in whatever way he was inspired.  

When the Mojahedin Organization's forces arrived in Chaharzebar region, encountered an unexpected event, which was the acceptance of the resolution and ceasefire by Iran. That is, the Mojahedin Organization really got pinned. Rajavi quickly went to visit Saddam, and asked him not to accept the ceasefire, but Saddam said that he had already accepted it and had no desire to continue the war. Therefore, he wants to accept the ceasefire and enters into peace negotiations. In addition, many lands of Iran are in his possession, and he has an ace up his sleeve, and he doesn't need to continue the war. Masoud Rajavi asked him to give him at least two or three days to prepare and to do that operation he wanted to do in the fall, and to go to Tehran instead of just Kermanshah! 

At that time, the Mojahedin Organization had about 5000 to 7000 members, many of whom were brought from abroad; people like me who had never fired a shot in their life. I was in charge of the Mojahedin Organization in Dubai, when they ordered to shut down everything and to send all the troops. I was the last one who came. When I arrived, the operation had been over. I went from Dubai to Kuwait, from Kuwait to Jordan, and finally I was able to come from there. The flights could not be arranged. Then I came to Baghdad and from Baghdad I went to Khanaqin, worn in a suit and a Samsonite bag in my hand. I went to a place called “support base”, where they brought the wounded and dead bodies. I helped to move the wounded and the bodies. They also gave me a uniform that was about two sizes bigger and its creases were obvious. When I fetched the bodies and the injured, my uniform was covered in blood to the extent that one of the rescuers asked me: "You are bleeding!" I replied: “No, I’ve not entered the operation yet.”

It was late in the operation. All forces were withdrawing. Anyway, they did this operation earlier and went until they reached Chaharzebar. According to what other members reported, in the heights of Chaharzebar, the snipers started shooting from the heights in Hassanabad plain, and shot several commanders of these groups, so they forced to withdraw to be reorganized. They attacked several more times, and finally they could capture two of these four heights, but two heights remained and they withdrew again, when it was commanded from Baghdad to withdraw. They ordered the forces to go back to Hassanabad and Mahidasht, so that they can send reinforcements. There was also an ambush in Siah Khor, and once again on the way back, our forces were ambushed there, and all the other forces were completely destroyed and had to return to Iraq.

Many features of this attack were similar to ISIS attacks, including their violence and cruelness. I mean that, they emphasized on taking no prisoners in this operation, and asked us not to take anyone as a prisoner, and to make the final decision right there. They fired the fields and did not spare even the cattle. Like ISIS, they scared people with violence to disperse them. They even brought a number of injured people into the yard of Islamabad hospital, where they had been hospitalized, and executed them. They said we have no prisoners. The Iranian air force and artillery could not do anything either, because they were coming from the main road and we were between people's cars.

If you watch carefully the films of that time, you realize that the cars of ordinary rural people are in the middle of the columns of the Liberation Army or the Mojahedin Organization, and they could not maneuver over the Islamabad city. If they could have reached Kermanshah, the same story of Mosul or Aleppo would have happened with heavy casualties, and after a long time, this city could have been recaptured; because they were among ordinary people. Anyway, this tactic of martyr Sayad Shirazi was later provided by Iranian advisers to Syria and Iraq, to defend against aggressors. I remember that I attended a meeting in which they talked about how to fight with ISIS. They pointed to the same tactic which martyr Sayad Shirazi used against the Mojahedin Organization and its operation failed.

I have a few things to say. One is that I sometimes hear in some places that some people say: as if a number of crazy people, who didn't understand anything, went and... No, it was a calculated tactic. Suppose that if they wanted to act, for example, in the way that Iraq fight against ISIS by using the classic army when they captured Mosul, then the hypocrites would definitely have taken Kermanshah. Or the same tactic used by Syria against ISIS in Aleppo, again the same happened. But that form of confrontation which was like the attack of the Mojahedin Organization itself, was good. Later, I heard that all the forces who came in the Operation Mersad, were volunteer forces. In a meeting, I heard the martyr Haj Hossein Hamadani said: “When we went to the Syria, we found out that it is forbidden to broadcast the call to prayer and congregational prayers in the Syrian army. We said leave this army aside. We want volunteers, Shiite volunteers, to come and be armed with light weapons. There, we entered with the same tactic to repel ISIS.”


[1]. A German word equal to “Blink” in English.

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