SABAH (47)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (47)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019



Thanks God he also jumped without any problem. I noticed that he did not lie on the ground like the others to keep safe from the Iraqi fire He stood on the edge of the roof and hung his head down and stretched his hand towards me and said: “sister, give me your hand and jump. It is a long way down. If God forbid you fall, your life will be endangered.”

He looked pale and his voice was trembling, and it was obvious that he has struggled a lot to tell me this. Although I was very worried inside, but I said: “no brother! Don’t worry. I can jump. God will help me and nothing will happen.” He said: “sister, you might fall… let me help you.” I said: “no I have trust in God. I will not fall.” He said: “ok so hurry.”

I went two meters back and whispered in the name of God and after saying Ya Saheb Alzaman, I collected all my strength in my feet and jumped. As soon as I reached the next roof, I felt that all my muscles are stretched and torn. I had a strange pain in my feet and I felt as if I could never walk again. I looked up and saw a mellow smile on the commander’s face. He was happy because I had been able to jump and land safely on the other side. I did not show the pain I was in. All forces had gone down the stairway in vertical position. I dragged myself towards the stairway. When I got on my feet to come down the stairs, I felt a massive stretch in my trembling muscles.

The house that we hand landed on its roof, was two buildings away from the first building and was half-constructed. Through the yard we returned to the same building we entered in the first place.

I went to check on the rest. Dr. Mostafavi and Dr. Sa’adat had took refuge in different corners of the same building. I told them what had happened. They asked about the soldier who had thrown himself down. I was saying that I think he has been shot that we saw him coming inside the building crippling and sat in a corner. We were both angry at him for what he had done and happy at the same time that he had not been shot. He said that he had landed on a pile of hay besides the building and only his ankle is hurt.

I said: “Why did you do that brother?! We made all that effort and misery to reach to Iraqis to surprise them and give them a basic strike, then you open fire on them all of a sudden and ruined our plans!”

He tilted his head down and said: “sorry, I did not understand how it happened. As I saw them walking in the city safe and sound, I just put my finger on the trigger. Believe me it was out of my hands! I could not take it.”

He was really remorseful. We did not say anything anymore. What was done was done and we could not do anything about it. We had to wait for the enemy fire to die down. If we acted, they would suppress us right at the first moment. We had lost the chance. Our effort to get to the Iraqis unnoticed and surprise them from the back to force their hand had been ruined with the unreasonable action of this poor guy.

It was one or two hours that we had got there but were unable to take any action. The Iraqis were targeting the location so heavily that we could not even move a step. The Commander of the army came and said: “Sister! Do you know any other path towards the customs? It is of no use to stay here. There is also a risk that the Iraqis might come forward and clashes might rise.”

I said: “there is another path brother. We can take that way.”

He smiled. This was the second time that he trusted me. They followed me again. The door which the vehicles entered the customs was located in Santap Street and continued until Rah Ahan square. Ebne Sina primary school located at Rah Ahan square was the school that I had studied until fifth grade. I frequented the area all the time. I wanted to guide the soldiers through that path and reach Jadali school wall which was behind the customs wall. They accepted and we set out.

We exited the building and passed almost a long way in sitting position. We entered the palm grove. This was the same palm grove that we had passed through while entering that building. We passed our house and rather than going straight and reach Mowlavi Street, we turned left; to Santap Street and Mamouri stream.

Mamouri stream had a wooden bridge; one of those loose bridges which is made of limbers attached to each other. The limbers were missing a line in between. We passed the bridge with caution and reached to a big mansion which was the residence of one of the Sheikh’s of Khorramshahr. Behind the wall of the house, we saw a few navy commandoes standing. We were happy to see them. We greeted each other. They asked: “What are you doing here?” We answered: “We want to enter the customs.” One of them said: “The Iraqis are inside the customs. How do you want to enter?” I said: “We will move forward as much as we can.”

One of the commandoes had a weapon which got my attention. I asked: “What model is your weapon?” He said: “MG3 machine gun.” I asked: “How much does it weigh?” He said: “Around fourteen fifteen kilos.” “Do you want to try it? It has massive kick back.” I said: “No, it is very heavy. I can hardly hold it in my hands, let alone shooting.”

The Commander started talking to the commandoes. He told them how we had reached that location and what happened inside the building. The commandoes said: “The Iraqis are exactly at the entrance of the customs and are shooting the surroundings constantly.”

Right opposite to us, on the other side of Santap street, was the rail way and we had to pass it over. Some of the boys and commando forces who had taken shelter behind the wall, placed their weapons in automatic position and made a fire wall for us so that we could get to the rail way in bended position. Before moving, I returned the UZI of the commander and got my MG3 back. I was afraid that we might lose each other during chase and runs and I might not be able to return his weapon back.

Zahra, Dr. Sa’adat, Dr. Mostafavi and I used the fire line as our support and ran to the railway. We entered the palm groves on the other side of the railway; the palm groves in which the houses and shelters of the poor villagers were located; houses made of bamboos and fescue half damaged. They made a curve which ended in Jadali School. We passed this path and reached the port houses.

We went from there behind the customs wall. We passed a path of twenty to thirty meters and stationed near Santap entrance. We saw Aghareb Parast forces fighting with Iraqis near the customs.

The Iraqis had opened heavy fire on the area which made it impossible to enter the customs from Santap gate. I decided to take them in through the hole which I saw on the seventeenth day for the first time; the same hole that we had moved the body of the martyr back with the wheelbarrow. But moving towards that hole and passing from it was not a simple thing to do. I told the commander what path I was going to guide them to. He told his RPG operator to fire one RPG towards the Iraqis to keep them busy for a while.

He shot the first RPG bullet from the corner of the door that the railway passed through. He was ready to shoot the second bullet, but the Commander yelled: “hold it! It is possible that they trace your location from the RPG fire and shoot you, change your place quickly and then shoot the second bullet!”

The forces which were with us, opened constant fire towards the area that the Iraqis were stationed. Most of their weapons were G3 and their cartridges emptied quickly. Zahra and I tried to help them by filling in the G3 cartridges and hand them over to the soldiers. In the commotion of RPG bullet blast and the quick reaction of Iraqis, the RPG operators ran towards the hole in the wall to shoot the second bullet.

Near the crack, meaning ten fifteen meters away from the gate, the commander ordered the RPG operator to be ready for second shot. He armed his RPG quickly and shot. A few minutes later, while he had not changed his location, he was ready to shoot the third bullet but all of a sudden a huge explosion happened near us.

The Iraqis had shot an RPG this time. I felt the blazes of fire and the increase in the heat volume. Zahra and I were standing opposite each other. In one second, huge volume of the explosion wave hit my head and body and distressed me. It was as if I had felt the huge volume of the fire and the explosion wave first and then heard the explosion sound in a few seconds. The Iraqis’ RPG bullet had hit two three meters away from us. I was looking at our RPG operator in a woozy way that I saw another fire near us and our RPG operator and two three other soldiers started being cut into pieces and tearing slowly!

The explosion wave had turned my head heavy and I saw my surrounding as a slow-motion movie. I moved my eyesight towards Zahra. I saw that her face crumpled in one second and she sat on her knees slowly. I asked her surprised and slowly: “What did happen Zahra?”

Zahra had not answered my question yet that we heard the moaning sound of Dr. Sa’adat. Major Agharebparast forces ran towards us after hearing the explosion sound. Dr. Sa’adat’s hand and Zahra’s waist had been hit by shrapnel. I wanted to attend to Zahra first but I saw that Dr. Mostafavi ran towards her and they placed her in an ambulance which was in Santap Street.

I moved towards Dr. Sa’adat. He was attending to his wound with one hand. I ran towards the injured. I did not know how to attend to their torn bodies. The smell of meat and smog and gunpowder and soil had all mixed together; the smell of gunpowder being stronger than the others. One of the soldiers of the Major approached and said: “Sister, you attend to the injured and my friends and I will attend to the martyrs.”

Except for them, three-four people had been hit by shrapnel and had to be transported back quickly. As I moved towards the ambulance, it left taking Zahra. I had to stay for another vehicle. I was not feeling well. I was doing all these tasks while I was still confused. I saw that Agharebparast forces are taking the injured to a house nearby. That was their headquarters.

While waiting for the arrival of a vehicle, I collected the weapons of the martyrs and the injured. I placed four five G3s on my shoulders and went towards the ammunition box which was full of aid items. I dragged the ammunition box inside the yard with a lot of effort and hardship. The boxes were very heavy and I had a severe pain in my spine and could feel my heartbeat all over my body.

When I moved the boxes and weapons, I went and collected all the cartridges which had fallen on the ground. I did not want to leave even one bullet on the ground. I collected all the bullets and took them inside the house.

In the yard, I saw Major Aghareb Parast. One of his feet was in cast. His toes were bloody and discolored. I had seen him behind the customs wall yesterday and he was fine. It seemed that something had happened to him in the meantime. I was not feeling well to ask him about his injuries. Maryam Kohandel was in the yard too. I approached her. She was sitting in a corner on the ground and had a tape recorder on. I asked her: “What are you doing?” She said: “I am recording the sound of the clashes.”


To be continued …


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