SABAH (51)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (51)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019



We had a rough night full of stress and anxiety. We heard from the injured that customs area and Taleghani district have been sieged completely and is under the control of Iraqis. I decided to check on Fouziyeh and Shahnaz. Despite the chaotic situation of the city, I went to the kitchen with caution. Their situation was the same as ours. Their location was even more insecure than any other. Ghazi Zadeh sisters, Ms. Angali, Ms. Pour Heydari, Ms. Hejab who was Elaheh’s mother’s sister-in-law, Mum Masoumeh and her daughter and a girl called Fatemeh, had stayed in the kitchen. The Iraqis wanted to target the kitchen in every way possible so that they could stop the flow of a bit of bread which was delivered to the soldiers. In this way, the soldiers would have become weak and unable to fight.

I asked them about my father. They said that two three nights ago he has been there. They said that thanks God he has been well but had lost a lot of weight. I missed him so much. He was not in an age to be able to bear all this pressure easily. I stayed there for a short while and returned to the office. I thought an injured might come in. Mahmoud Farrokhi and Mehdi Alboughabish had come to the office and were talking to the team members. When I got there, Mahmoud Farrokhi was saying: “Khorramshahr will fall only if we are dead.”

Alboughabish also continued: “The Iraqis should first cross over our dead bodies and then conquer the city.”

I felt a new wave of life coming into my body. I thanked God with all my heart when I saw that our people are resisting like a man and are not ready to go back despite their empty hands.

I had just arrived at the office that an injured soldier was brought in. He was a seventeen eighteen year old who had long hair and the shrapnel had destroyed half of his skull. His long and black hair was covered in dust and blood bits of his brain but he had pulse and his heart was pounding. I told the team members: “I will take him. You stay here and attend to the rest of the injured.”

Mahmoud Farrokhi said: “Sister Sabah, you have to take him to the maternity hospital. We are short of time and there is no chance to take him to Taleghani. He will die.” I said: “ok I will take him there.”

The maternity hospital was located in Kout Sheikh in Khorramshahr and based on the fighter’s reports, it was still safe. We moved from the office to the maternity hospital with the same vehicle that they had brought the injured in. I checked his pulse regularly on the way. In the long corridor of the maternity hospital, there were numerous beds full of injured soldiers and some were also lying on the ground. Due to the camouflage of the windows of the maternity hospital the corridor was semi dark.

I ran towards one of the doctors wearing white gowns and brought him near the wounded soldier and said: “for the sake of God, please help him.”

The doctor looked at the injured and then looked at me very cool and said: “Sister, what should I do with him?”

When I saw the doctor acting so cool, I lost control and raised my voice and yelled at the doctor: “What do you mean? You are standing there like ice looking at him? You are the doctor but you ask me what to do for him?! Take him to surgery room… at least inject something.”

The doctor got angry and told: “I am a general physician. I am not a surgeon. Besides that, can’t you see that half of his brain is out of his skull and is hanging on his face? Nothing can be done for him. He will be alive mostly for a few more minutes …”

He was right. I did not want to accept the fact that he could not survive for long in this situation. I felt ashamed of my action. I had become aggressive from the grief for my city. What was the fault of the poor physician? Although I had yelled at him but he instructed one of the nurses to inject the patient. I did not stay there. I walked out of the hospital.

When I returned, my father was in the office. He had come to visit me. He had gone to the kitchen to see his children and then had come to see me. My sisters had given him my address. He had reached the office at eleven in the morning and had waited for me. He had become very thin and old but I was thankful that he is alive. He said in a calm tone: “Sabbah, don’t you want to go out of the city? You know that the Iraqis have progressed a lot and it is not to your benefit to stay. It is dangerous.”

His voice was full of sorrow and his face was so sad as if he had lost one of his beloved ones and is mourning. I did not want to object to his words but on the other hand I did not want to leave the city at all. Therefore I said: “What about the others? Have Shahnaz and Fouziyeh accepted to leave the city?” He said: “No! They begged me to let them stay.” I said: “Can you please let me stay too? We will do something together.” He said: “It is dangerous. There is high possibility of being captured. How can my heart endure and let you stay?” I said: “father, be sure that if I feel danger, I will not stay. I will get out of Khorramshahr.” He said: “Do you want to feel greater danger than what it is now?” I said: “The team members are still here. I am one of them. Whatever Shahnaz and Fouziyeh and other team members do, I will do the same.”

I wanted to get his approval; therefore I had lowered my tone as much as I could. He did not say anything and held his head down. I changed the topic and said: “Father, do you have any update on Ali? I am very worried about him.” He said: “No dear. No news?! He is like the other young people of this city … Hopefully God will protect them.[1]

My father stayed for a little while and left. When he left, I left the office. The team members said that the Iraqis had sieged the Ahmad Zadeh square. It was obvious that we only had a few streets under control.

The Iraqis had occupied the houses located between Jameh mosque to Darvazeh square or Fakhre Razi Street on the twenty fourth day. They were either in the houses or on the rooftops. The battle positioning of the Iraqis was like the letter “U” in English. The armor forces were located at the head of the letter and the infantry stood at the base. Until the twentieth day of the first month of autumn, the east lever of the U progressed until Bahman Shir River and seventh station of Abadan and closed the Abadan-Mahshahr route. The west lever of the U entered the customs through the river and progressed towards Ahmad Zadeh square, Ferdowsi Street and Farah high school. The base of the U was full of Iraqi forces and groups spreading from Abadan to Khorramshahr customs. With this progress and this approach, if we did not receive weapons and fighting forces, we had only a few steps left to the fall of Khorramshahr.

We had to make a fire line for each other so that we could reach the team who had been located behind the office. A few men took turn and built fire line and we passed the streets reaching Fakhre Razi Street. We took refuge in one of the streets behind the office.

We had just reached our team members that the Iraqis shot an RPG bullet to one of the walls of the houses on that street. We lied down quickly. One of the members was injured. I ran towards him. The shrapnel had hit his thigh. I tore his trousers upper the point that had been wounded. I pressured the wound with a handful of gauzes and tightened it with band aid. I wanted to stop the bleeding. He had fracture and could not move.

Nobody paid attention to us. The boys had taken shelter and were shooting towards the Iraqis. Although the injured individual was thin and had petit physics, but I was not able to lift him or even drag him aside. His bleeding was excessive. In a matter of seconds all band aids that I had made as tampons were soaked in blood. I went to the boys and said: “You have to move him to the other side of the street and get him to the office.”

One of them looked at me and as soon as he wanted to say something, I said: “I will make a fire line for you so that you can move him.” He surprisingly asked: “Can you shoot?” I said: “Yes, I can.”

I went behind the wall where that soldier was standing. I set my G3 on automatic position and since I did not know where the Iraqis are exactly, I started to shoot in zigzag position constantly. It was not obvious whether they are in the houses and behind the windows or in the opposite backstreets. Two fighters lifted the injured individual and passed the street and took him to the office. When I was content that they have passed safely, I decided to go to the office. It was not easy but with the help of God I passed the street quickly. Each second there was a probability that I will be shot and fall in the street but thanks God nothing happened.

When I reached the office, I injected the injured individual and checked his vital signs. Then we got him into the ambulance and sent him to the hospital. I preferred to stay in the office due to the high volume of the shooting and the probability of bringing in more injured. As the injured told us, fight at Ahmad Zadeh square had become heavy and the Iraqis were progressing from Ordibehesht square towards the Governor’s office to siege the bridge. We knew that if their tanks and armor forces reach the bridge, we will be under full siege; therefore, the army had arranged most of its forces in this area.

In the time duration of noon of twenty third day until eleven at night, almost most of the injured brought to the office, had been injured in one-on-one clashes. The number of martyrs had increased significantly. Most of the injured told us that the Iraqis were so near that they could not distinguish between our own forces and the Iraqis. Friend and enemy were mixed up and the fighters were handcuffed to fight and resist.

In that condition, we were busy all the time. Most of the injured were wounded with knife or bayonet and had internal hemorrhage. Until that time, we had only seen bullet and shrapnel wounds and we knew how to deal with those wounds and its excessiveness, but the wounds and raptures created by knives and bayonets were very dangerous and drastic despite their small appearance. Those cowards had also been trained for this. Most of the wounds were around soft tissues of the body such as kidneys and spleen. Despite all this we did not have martyrs in the office.

We took the martyrs from office to Abadan. The morgue of Taleghani hospital had no more capacity. Therefore, the fridge of Mihan ice cream factory had been operationalized and the martyrs were kept there. The bodies were kept for one two days in case somebody might claim them. If nobody claimed the bodies, then they were buried as unknown and anonymous and wrote on their tomb stones: “anonymous martyr.”


To be continued …


[1] As Shahnaz later explained to me, at noon on the twenty-third day, two or three IRGC children go to the kitchen in a van and tell the people to leave Khorramshahr and there is no place to stay. They also strongly oppose and say that as long as they are still our fighters, we will stay and no one can get us out of here. Then one of the children of the IRGC armed himself and stopped in front of the children in the kitchen and said, "Now that you are going to stay here and get caught by the Iraqis and be killed, then let me do the work myself and kill you." When it comes to these words, another soldier intervenes and tells the sisters to at least go and get ready to take you to Kout Sheikh War Room and from there to cook for the fighters. The children accept and go with them, unaware that, according to Shahnaz, they had done this trick just to convince us to leave, and that none of the children would ever see the color of Kout Shikh’s war room. They take them all out of Khorramshahr and drop them off at Abadan seventh station.

Number of Visits: 346


Full Name:
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