Memories of Second Brigadier General Akbar Fatouraei

Ghooshchi Garrison

Selected by Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


In September 1980, my wife, my friend, my colleague, Mr. Mohammad-doost, who was an Air Force officer, and I went to holy Mashhad. Mr. Mohammad-doost had a house in Mashhad, where we stayed during this trip.

We returned to Tehran on September 23, 1980. On the way home from the railway station, the crowd in front of the bakeries attracted our attention. Surprisingly, I asked the taxi driver who was taking us to our destination about the reason. He said, “Don't you know there is a war?” I asked, “Who is fighting with whom?” He replied with a smile, “hey, you are out of the loop, not who with whom but where with where.” And he continued again with the same tone, “Yesterday, Iraqi aircrafts bombarded Mehrabad; the news was published in all the newspapers and broadcast on the radio.”

West Azerbaijan was considered one of the war zones due to its border with Iraq; moreover, since the beginning of the revolution, every corner of this region was insecure due to the movements of anti-revolutionary groups. Since I was considered a native of this region and in a situation where my hometown was in danger of the enemy invasion, I no longer considered it necessary to stay in Tehran; so I submitted to higher authorities my resignation from the chairmanship of the Army Purgation Committee along with my request to be sent to the West Azerbaijan region.

Very soon, my resignation and transfer request was accepted and I returned to Urmia. A few days after my return to Urmia, on a cold autumn morning, I was informed of the news of the democrats' attack on the division barracks through Bargh Street, which was located behind the barracks. I quickly got into the army jeep that was given to me and drove to the barracks.

The IRGC and Basij forces also came to help the army and stopped the attackers in the gardens of that area before they could enter the barracks. Having organized the forces, the resistance against the enemy turned into a tough battle that continued until noon that day. At noon, the enemy realized that it was not possible to penetrate the barracks and therefore retreated. In the evening of that day, no more shots were heard in the city.

A few days later, I was assigned as the command of Ghooshchi barracks, and I held this position until the spring of 1981.

According to the approval of the Revolutionary Council, the revenue of one day's oil sales was given to the army to benefit it, so the governor's office provided a significant budget to the division to meet its needs. A part of this budget was also allocated to Ghooshchi Barracks and I, as the commander, had the authority to spend it according to the existing needs. One of the major problems of the families living in the barracks was the provision of milk, which had to be provided from nearby villages or from the city. On the other hand, the region was insecure due to the presence of the counter-revolution. Having formed a joint stock company, I collected some money and with that money I built a livestock farm in a corner of the barracks and bought some dairy cows from Piranshahr. With this, we became self-sufficient in terms of dairy products, and we stopped going outside the barracks to meet our needs.

We used another part of the devoted budget to build a bathroom in the barracks. Therefore, we designed a square place and divided it into four parts. One part was dedicated to the bathroom facilities and engine room, two parts were used as male and female private baths, and the fourth part was turned into a public bath.

One of the problems the barracks residents faced was water scarcity. When I was serving as a lieutenant in this barracks, Mr. Haqgu, the barracks commander, had ordered to create a stream from the village of “Hammamlar” to the barracks; the water of this stream was used to plant gardens and trees in the barracks. Drinking water was also brought to the barracks from the village of “Ghoolanji” by means of water tanks that were installed on a cart. Every ten liters of water was sold for 1 Rial. Later, the stream disappeared and instead they had dug a deep well outside the barracks. Before my command, the well water had become unusable due to the collapse of the well wall. Therefore, the previous commander had not allowed residents to grow vegetables in their gardens and irrigate them through piped water due to water scarcity. When I took over the command, the atmosphere of the residential area was extremely soulless and devoid of any freshness. The gardens in front of the buildings yearned for greenness and verdure, and made every viewer droopy. Considering the necessity I felt for cultivation, I dug a deep well at the entrance of the barracks without paying any money by asking for help from the Engineering Department of the Land Force; it was resulted in considerable fresh water, and vegetable farming flourished in the barracks. After that, the edge of the gardens had become a suitable promenade for the residents to relax and airing in the evening.

As I mentioned, Ghooshchi region was insecure at that time due to the presence of Kurdistan Democratic Party militants. At a distance of a few kilometers behind the barracks, there were a number of Kurdish villages, which were the places of movement of the militias, and they took “yarmeti[1] (people’s aid)” from the people of these villages by force of arms. Sometimes, these armed people stopped the cars passed the Urmia-Salmas Road by laying in ambush in Ghooshchi gorge and plundered property of innocent people.

We always had a number of informers among the villagers who brought us news of the events in the villages. These people were hired by the 2nd pillar of the army, which had representatives in each barracks, and paid them a fixed salary. During the first months of my command in Ghooshchi barracks, I often heard news of racketeering which made me angry about the continuation of this insecurity. It had reached a point where they dared and occasionally came the area of barbed wire behind the barracks, which indicated their serious determination to enter the barracks.

I decided to carry out a maneuver to flex our muscles against counter-revolutionary groups and reduce their activities. There were two tanks in the barracks. I put a number of troops on tanks and assigned them to patrol around a number of villages. I also requested a helicopter from Mr. Dekiani, who was in charge of commanding the 64th division.

Our forces started the operation at 9:00 AM and returned to the barracks around 5:00 PM. In this operation, they clashed with counter-revolutionary forces, and unfortunately, one of the tanks was destroyed by an RPG missile and one of our good officers named “Pashaei” died a martyr.


Source: Abedi, Hadi (2014), Lifetime + ten years [Abad + dah sal]; Memories of Second Brigadier General Akbar Fatouraei. Sooreh Mehr, Vol. 1, p. 159.


[1] A Kurdish word that means people's aid, but since the militia groups took people's property by force of arms, this word gradually took on the meaning of racketeering.

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