The 353rd Session of Memory Night-3

Adjusted by Leyla Rostami
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi

2024-7-10


Narrated by the line-breaker divers of Hazrat Zainab (PBUH) Battalion of the 10th Division of Seyyed al-Shohada (PBUH) in the 4th and 5th operations of Karbala, the 353rd session of memory night was held in Hozeh Honari of Engelab-e Eslami, Sooreh Amphitheater on December 28, 2023. In this meeting, Hajj Ahmad Ghasemi, Vahid Marandi, and Vahid Masdari shared their memories. Also, there was book launch of “Higher than Height” written by Zahra Zamani. Davood Salehi was in charge of this session.

 

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In the beginning of his memoirs, Vahid Masdari, the third narrator of this memory night stated, “On the first night of Operation Karbala-5, two of our friends who were in Al-Hadid Battalion went to seize Tavakkuls[1]. We were two companies of divers; Al-Hadid and Al-Qadr. We were supposed to go behind Al-Hadid Company. Al-Hadid guys were ordered to seize Tavakkuls and the islands first, and we, Al-Qadr Company, would pass. We were commanded to seize at first the fort and then the semilunar (in Persian, the letter N “ن” is semilunar, so the fighters called such bulwarks Nooni) bulwarks[2] behind the fort. On the opposite side of the flooding of Shalamcheh, there was an 11 km north-south fortress. Iraqis had built a fortress one kilometer behind our border in the past. They had fortified it and poured water in front of it. At the end of it, about 300 meters away from the fort, there was 2-3 kilometers of water where Al-Hadid's Company had entered. Due to the wireless being out of order and food poisoning of the division by the fifth column of the hypocrites, it was a little late and we were unaware and wondered.

Severe diarrhea caused us to have no control and our clothes became dirty. We didn't have time to take off our clothes. We were waiting to see what would happen for us! We had lunch at 3 p.m. and the operation started at approximately 7 o'clock in the evening. I myself got into difficulty badly. Some people less, some more; Some people who had eaten less were not poisoned. They said whoever is poisoned and don’t want to come to the operation, don't come. It was clear that everyone was poisoned. Two or three people could not come to the operation; But the other guys said we go to the operation in the same condition. It was not clear whether al-Hadid forces had seized the ambushes or not; Because we were supposed to enter the water after Al-Hadid guys; we didn’t know what to do. They told us to run, there is a pier above, and the passage of Al-Mahdi Battalion is probably opened. We ran in diving suits. Diving suit is plastic and it causes sweat in the normal condition; But when we ran, we were sweating much. It was February (Dey/Bahman) and a very cold night. We chittered. We took shelter behind the pier. We sat there to know what we should do.

 Because the diving suit is jumpsuit and difficult to take off, some people's clothes were damaged and dirty due to extreme diarrhea. I was obsessed; so away from the eyes of the guys and in the triangle of wind, humidity and cold, I would completely take off my clothes and wash myself with salty water; but as I was coming back, I would have to repeat it again.

The narrator continued, “We were still sitting to see what our task was when the enemy fired a heavy artillery preparation. It was a spectacular scene; We were still in the cold, indecisiveness, and diarrhea, and on the other hand, we were watching the fire. In short, they said the route has changed. They had built a dock in the farthest and widest part of the flood so that Iraq could not hit it easily. We boarded Xerxes[3] there. It was decided to move forward wherever possible; If they hit Xerxes or anything else happens, we would walk from there. Xerxes also went straight. We hadn't gone more than 500 meters when Xerxes was drowned. The old embankments were muddy and only half a meter on the top of it was dry, which could not cross there. In short, we walked as planned.

The other side of the pier where we were was Al-Mahdi’s dock. Al-Mahdi Battalion of our division was docked on the tip of Panjzeli (pentagon)[4] and they were transporting supplies and the wounded by boat. Because the depth of the water was low, 3 or at most more than 4 people were not ridden and they helped us. These boats made us reach there early in the morning, but we didn't have time. In order to arrive at semilunar bulwarks, we had to go back at least 5 kilometers to Imam Reza Square[5] on the right. Because we hadn't slept well the night before and we had built trench, and the night before that, the guys had come from the Susangerd maneuver, the problem in our temperament, the cold, the drowning of Xerxes and almost 2 km walking on the mud to reach the boats had exhausted us. We were worried about Tavakkul's guys! What happened to our own guys! Why did it happen! Why Xerxes drowned! We reached the inside of the fortress on the opposite side. It was Al-Mahdi Battalion. It was still dark. There was a small pier. When we disembarked, my foot hit something. I looked, it was a severed head. The kids said he was Iraqi. I mean, it was so dark that we couldn't recognize him from half a meter away. The fire had already started. Numerous flares were shot. We went into the canals. 2 kilometers to the south and within our area behind the guys when we wanted to go toward Tavakkul and semilunar bulwark was blocked.

The narrator added, “This was one of the difficulties of the operation. Because it was day, the Iraqis had enough time. If we were faster, they wouldn't have time to think; But they came, brought forces, built a barricade and blocked our path. It was a canal with an embankment of about 6 meters on one side and a cement wall on the other side. There was also water behind it. We had come from the water side. Behind this canal, we encountered the Iraqis and engaged with the Iraqis in person combat. That is, an in person combat that during the day our black clothes were very clear, and we were wearing black diving suits and the Iraqis were wearing commando clothes. Al-Mahdi and Sajjad's guys were slightly camouflaged with khaki-colored clothes. As soon as the guys went out or wanted to make a move, they were easily shot.

We stopped at about 8 to 8:30 in the blue sky of the morning. Then they told go south 200-300 meters. We were two or three kilometers far from semilunar bulwarks, which were our limit and we had to seize it early in the morning! Imam Hussain (AS) Division was supposed to cross our limit. In this situation, I was telling myself that we didn't capture the Nooni (semilunar bulwarks) and the day has come; these poor Al-Hadid guys, who are now 300 meters away from the Nooni and under fire, were smashed. We should go and get our limit early. We went 200-300 meters further and stopped again. They did not even do the operation march. Usually, if the operation went wrong, they announced it late. If the operation was successful, they would announce at the dawn, raised voice of the operation march and all the people of Iran would know that the operation had begun.

We were in Operation Karbala-4 two weeks ago when the operation went wrong and we had been told that the mission is canceled and that you should not enter the water and go to Ahvaz. We also had the experience of analyzing in the tent for two weeks about that why the operation went wrong! Why did it happen in this way! Why did it happen in that way! I used to say to the guys, “the fellows, this went wrong again, they didn’t do the march! We had gone approximately 2.5 kilometers to the south when we suddenly saw Al-Mahdi Battalion was also moving back. I said, well, there is going to be a retreat. They didn't even do the march, so we who are wearing diving suits would resist and finally enter the water. On the way, in the water, I was saying to the guys, God bless them, Homayoun, Marandi and a few others, “You see this water! We are also meat; When a bullet hits the water it bubbles and we become bubbling Abgoosht! It will be the same as Karbala-4.”

The narrator added, “The guys could not retreat. The enemy shot 4-5 kilometers behind us. Because we had retreated in Valfajr-4 and in other operation in the past and the same calamities befell us. We were hit from behind. We saw a person coming from the direction of the Iraqis—to the west of us, 2 kilometers away, there was an Iraqi armored brigade camp. He was Hajj Khadem. I said to myself, “What is Haji doing here, where there are rows of barbed wire and minefields and Maghtaei (it seems it is a kind of weapon)?!” He accidentally jumped into the canal. We said, “What's going on Haji?” The tanks had been turned on and there was a lot of dust. He said, “The Iraqis are smashing and coming forward.” We said, “shit, it’s all over, the front is closed, this side is water, if the armored brigade comes, we will be thrown into the water. Al-Mahdi guys are also going back.”

Some guys were demoralized. Martyr Foolavand, Martyr Farhangi and Martyr Bagheri lied down in the foothill of the bulwark. Iraq continued to fire Katyusha. A Katyusha was shooting right here, which was far away. I held a Simonov and shot around it to distract it a bit. It was a kilometer away, but we were still trying. We fired several mortars. The guys said don't shoot! The guys are lied down on the foothill, on the opposite side of the mini Katyusha, and I also went to them.

In this situation, they did the operation march around ten a.m. Because I didn't have a watch, I say it tentatively. We said, thank God, it turned out that the operation started. Ten minutes later, someone threw grenades on the other side of the embankment and Iraqi sandbags; someone threw grenades on this side. One threw grenades, ten Iraqis came forward. That person would go up and barraged, they would come up. It was like a 70 cm alley; a 70 cm cement canal. Some places had roofs.

This line broke and we crossed. The canal was filled with Iraqi corpses and our own guys; a 170 cm canal with blocks on both sides. It was so full that only half a meter above it was empty. We had to go through these and stepped on their heads, faces and bodies. They were so compacted in the canal that when the guys had shot them they had been stacked on top of each other. They had not lied on the ground but they had gained volume. When we were walking on them, we were shot from the side, that is, our bodies were visible. We had to go. There was a lot of blood. I named it slide of blood, which means we slipped in it. I found out right there that I had bloody diarrhea; until then I didn't know it was bloody.

There was smoke, fire and the smell of burnt bodies. My waist had become so thin that I tied the bandolier in the last hole. When I smell the burnt bodies, my stomach scrabbled. In short, we passed there and reached the Nooni and where we were supposed to seize at around noon. The large number of troops in the canal caused the commands to get mixed up. It was difficult to pass through the commands. That is, for example, here were our martyrs, 20 meters ahead were our guys, 20 meters more ahead were Sajjadi guys. They wanted to go back, we had to hide ourselves so that they would pass. No one could see the commander; That is, one could see three people before and three people after him. We could not access back of the column. There was a gap. In terms of directing the operations, it was even more difficult than urban wars. It was very tight and sour. We should have stepped on our own martyrs. I tried not to step, but we step somewhere. We had to walk so much that my foot stepped on the brain of an Iraqi and it was so demoralizing.

We reached vicinity of the Nooni, now the Iraqis were resisting. They fired Maghtaei. Nooni was 6 meters away from the fortress. We should seize 2 Noonis. When I went, one or two people helped above Nooni. Gradually, the guys came and we established our limit around a quarter to twelve. An unfortunate incident that happened was that six of our guys had been hit by a tank. Homan Jahani who was my friend and my other friends were martyred. I did not know that these had been martyred and it embittered me. Because we had to pass them in the canal. At night, I came forward again to drive them back, but many troops of other divisions had also passed there.

 


[1] The names of three ambushes in Operation Karbala-5 (Tavakkul 1, Tavakkul 2, Tavakkul 3).

[2] Nooni-shaped embankment (Nooni-shaped (semilunar) positions: 50 meters in the west of Shalamcheh outpost, 300 meters long and 6 meters high, 10 meters lower width, 6 meters upper width, and 250 meters away from each other. On the top of the fort, there was a canal with 1-meter width and a depth of 1.20m for the deployment of infantry and observation from the battle area. There were three tank platforms at the behind of every fort, and in front of the semilunar, a 2.5m ball-shaped barbed wire and several rows of minefields. The most difficult point of the clashes in the area of Shalamcheh (Operation Karbala-5) was capturing crescents (Noonis). These semilunar fortifications swallowed a large number of troops. The design of the crescents made it difficult to bypass these positions. Iraq had fortified these mine barriers with barbed wire, canal, and an explosive trap.

[3] The BTR-50 carrier, with the Iranian name Xerxes carrier, is a Soviet-made amphibious armored personnel carrier that can carry 20 soldiers. The steel armor of this personnel carrier is thick between 7 mm at the back and 12 mm at the front and is only resistant to 7.62 mm bullets and small cracks.

[4] Pentagon (in Persian Panjzelei); At the southernmost point of the fish breeding canal (northwest-southeast direction) Iraq had created strong obstacles in the shape of a pentagon, which extended from the southeast to Shalamcheh, from the south to Doeeji, from the west to the Jassim river, from the east and north to floodings of the north of Shalamcheh, and from the northwest to the end of the Mahi canal. (Dictionary of the Geographical Areas of Sacred Defense Index, vol. 1, p. 197)

[5] Imam Reza Square (A.S.) (Death Square) (Both names were an area on the Khandaq- Majnoon Island Road, which after the conquest of the island by Islam warriors took the good name of Imam Reza (A.S.) (Dictionary of the Geographical Areas of Sacred Defense Index, vol. 2, p. 249).



 
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