An Excerpt from Sardar Sayyid Rahim Safavi Memories

Selected by Faezeh Sassanikhah
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


In the third decade of Farvardin (April) 1980, Martyr Maj. Gen. Yousef Kolahdooz, deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, from Tehran called me, who I was operations commander of Isfahan’s IRGC, and ordered that following the meeting we had with you in Tehran, you should go with as many Revolutionary Guards and Basij forces as you can to resist the counter-revolution, and liberate Sanandaj and other cities of Kurdistan.  He was aware of my background before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, including after graduating from university in geology in 1975, I had passed course of noncommissioned officer for two years in shiraz's 55th Airborne Brigade, and in 1977, when this period finished, I had learned military training and tactics, map-reading, and using a variety of light and semi-heavy weapons. Isfahan province’s IRGC was founded so firmly in terms of number of faithful and courageous Revolutionary Guards, structure of commanding organization (Hojjatoleslam Ahmad Salek was commander of the province’s IRGC), and the Provincial Revolutionary Guards Command Council.

We raised the issue at the IRGC Command Council in the province, and all members agreed I to go to Kurdistan along with the Revolutionary Guards and Basij forces. On the morning of April 11, 1980, given that three weeks had passed since my marriage, at the old airport of Isfahan, I said in a televised interview, “We, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij in Isfahan, are heading to Kurdistan aims to resisting the counter-revolution and liberating that region.” At the same day, along with about 200 brave, faithful and the young revolutionary guards and Basij forces of Isfahan, we went with enough weapons and ammunition by two C-130 aircrafts from the old airport of Isfahan to Sanandaj.

The airports had difficulty in finding Sanandaj Airport and wanted to bring the troops back to Isfahan, but I insisted that we no longer want to go back to Isfahan, get us off at Hamedan Airport. We were in a state of grace, and the pilots found the Sanandaj runway, which had been built in an inappropriate location, and both C-130s landed at the airport.

Finally, we went to Kurdistan. All of us were ready and nimble, had done ghusl for martyrdom (means ready to die), were lighthearted, and were away from any kind of dependence on the world luxury.

The road from Kermanshah to Sanandaj was closed and under control of the counter-revolutionary, and in the first step, we were forced to disembark our forces at Sanandaj Airport, which was under siege, with two C-130 aircrafts. The aircraft did not reach the runway when the runway was attacked by mortar shells. The guys, all armed with magazines and grenades hung on their waist, quickly disembarked, and the aircrafts returned to Tehran. We had burnt all ourselves bridges, now it was a battlefield for those who wanted to stay, resist, and fight trench by trench and step by step. In those circumstances, the only thing that could save us in that scene was to resort to Ahl al-Bayt (a.s), and grace of God. The guys had an iron will[1] and that's how it started.  We had to quickly clear and advance from the airport, and get ourselves to Sanandaj garrison, which was at a relatively far distance. Our path had to pass through Sanandaj city and the most important areas of conflict which were under control of counter-revolutionaries. The forces inside the garrison, which was emplacement of the 28th Division of Kurdistan, became informed of our disembarkation, and they also started fighting.  “Ali Mir” and “Mehdi Soltani” were the first who died a martyr in clashes near the officers' club, and we experienced immediately the bitter taste of separating from our comrades, but it was as if, during the defense in Kurdistan and after that in the imposed war, the apparent separation of the martyrs from us would not only weaken the insider's front, but Deus ex machina of those martyrs' grace would help us achieve our sacred goals, and we would see them beside ourselves.

When we arrived at the garrison and liberated a part of Sanandaj, we didn’t believe it ourselves. At the time of passing the governorate's office, I saw that all properties of Bayt al-Mal had been stolen from there, and they had even broken and destroyed flower pots and decorations of the governorate. Not all government agencies, even people's shops, houses, and mosques were safe from anti-revolutionary attacks. One of the reasons was that the armed counter-revolutionary who was losing the provincial capital, because they were not native and Kurdish, did not have an emotional relationship with the people of the city, and especially when they saw negative reaction of Kurds with themselves, they became angry and betrayed.

The officials at the capital coordinated with us, and there were no longer those deep-rooted problems of last year that would bring everything to a dead end; so, they sent aid and dispatched troops, and we were able to plan. With relative dominance over Sanandaj and its surroundings, we had to settle affairs, and reach left and right sides, or rather cities of Saqqez, Marivan, and Kamyaran to Kermanshah. After that, I was elected as commander of IRGC in Kurdistan, and Colonel (Lt. Gen.) Martyr Sayyad Shirazi as commander of Artesh forces in Kurdistan. Our first action was to establish a joint headquarters in Sanandaj garrison, which was missioned to coordinate Artesh, IRGC, and the gendarmerie troops, and also conducting coordinated operations.[2]



[1] One of the old forces of Kurdistan and the imposed war, now a disabled veteran above 70%, said in his memories: “When we got off in the airport, a mortar was fired and exploded and its quiver hit wing of the airport. Mr. Rahim brought us to the side of the road toward Sanandaj, and we moved. He said, ‘Do not fear, the Imam has prayed to you, we will win.’ Near ‘scout’, the situation became difficult; one of the guys, known as ‘Ada’, was one of those nimble and brave Basij forces that put a sixty mortar with no butts between his thighs and fired. At night when we gathered at the garrison, all his legs were burned due to heat of the mortar pipe. That's how the Basij were lover...” (Oral Memories, Disabled Veteran Hossein Ali Sabouri)

[2] Najafpour, Majid, (2004) Memories of Sardar Sayyid Rahim Safavi, from southern Lebanon to southern Iran. Vol. 1, Islamic Revolution Documentation Center, Tehran, p. 178.

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