The 302nd Night of Memory

Khorramshahr and Seyyed Saleh Mousavi As Narrated by Memories

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi

2019-07-02


According to Iranian Oral History Website, the 302nd memory night of Holy Defense was held in Sooreh Hall of Hozeh Honari in the Thursday afternoon, May 23, 2019. In this sessoin, Seyyed Abbas Bahrol-Oloom, Morteza Sarhangi and Mohammad Javad Sobhani narrated their memories of Iraq's imposed war against Iran.

 

With Sali in Khorramshahr

Seyyed Abbas Bahrol-Oloom was the first narrator of the program. He said: "Today I am here to talk to you about courage and lionheartedness and resistance of a man named Seyyed Saleh Mousavi; A man who was not nore than seventeen years old in the first days of the war in Khorramshahr and is now sitting on a wheelchair and suffering from brain lesion. He is not able to speak correctly and his hands and foot are disabled. Those days that many were not Seyyed Saleh was present; a 17-year-old boy who had taken off his shirt and held a RPG on his shoulder was seeking to hunt Iraqi tanks in alleys and streets of Khorramshahr. Today he has been neglected. Many weren't exist when Seyyed Sali[1] destroyed Iraqi tanks. Martyr Avini described Seyyed Sali very well. Seyyed Sali had bared himself and some people asked: Why was he bared? They said that it was a custom in Khorramshahr that all to be bare! I said: you do not know why did he bare? He has welcomed martyrdom like his lord Imam Hussein (AS)! He vitalizes children and young, even he had taken off his shirt to be lightened and free and not in dependency. Those days, Seyyed Sali, without shirts, with naked feet and holding a RPG, wherever were a Iraqi tank stood against it.

I know Seyyed Sali from my childhood; he was from Bazar Safa, alley behind the judiciary. When he had seven years, I was eleven. Together with his brothers Seyyed Taher and Seyyed Gholam and two to three guys from the neighborhood, we went out of home in the morning. It was summer. We crossed the bridge. We went about 10 to 15 kilometers away from the city and went to a village in Abadan - Khorramshahr road. Seyyed Saleh had a relative there and told let's go there. We were out from the morning to afternoon. Our families had worried and gave our names and features to Abadan Radio until in the afternoon they found us. When we were coming back, Seyyed Saleh's father took him by bike and beat him much. When I got home, advertisement about our being lost was broadcasting on the radio. Everyone shouted happily when they saw me, and of course I was beaten then.
In the war, I was in many places with Seyyed Sali. Battle of Rah Ahan Square was about October 1, 1980. About 10 to 10: 30 a.m. martyr Jahanara came and said: Take your team to Rah Ahan Square. I asked: what's up? He said:  "an Iraqi tank battalion has entered Rah Ahan Square and wants to go to the port and enters the city from the other side. At that time, we were eight people groups in the war. I went toward Rah Ahan Square with a group. There were a few cars those days and we walked everywhere. We walked about thirty to forty kilometers in a day. I was RPG shooter. We got to Rah Ahan Square. It was about 12 at noon. We were near government-owned houses of Rah Ahan. I said to Behnam Mohammadi: "Dear uncle! Please take a little water, we're very thirsty." He said: "uncle it is famine and there is no water." I said: a pond or a pool... . Behnam went and came back half an hour later with a bucket of yogurt. He took some very whiffy and pongy water by that bucket. He said: Uncle I just found the water. I ate that water due to excessive thirst and later I was afflicted to stomach disease. I want to say in what situation we fought; there was no water and food. I do not remember that we even had a breakfast just one day. When I remember those days of resistance (before fall of Khorramshahr), I am very happy that we stayed, resisted and did not leave the city.

It was about 2:30 to 3 p.m. The tank battalion had crossed Rah Ahan Square and entered Khorramshahr port. One group resisted in the port, one group was in Sheytan Bazaar and the third group, namely us, was in Rah Ahan Square. Iraqis were besieged and could not go out. At 3 p.m. I saw Seyyed Sali who had a RPG on his shoulder and said: "situation is very bad. There is a battalion of tanks and it is possible we will destroy it but the second battalion comes to the arena." As we looked at slaughterhouse, we saw that a commanding personnel carrier was coming toward Rah Ahan. That day, Seyyed Saleh sat very calmly on his knees in the middle of the street and picked up RPG. I also sat next to him with a RPG. We fired at commanding personnel carrier. It was stopped. We went ahead and saw there was blood, but not a corpse. We found that they were injured and escaped. In their portable transceiver there was always a message that we are in siege. We fired at portable transceiver and disconnected it. We returned to Rah Ahan Square. There was an epic there. 25 tanks had been entered. Their path had been closed and wanted to come back. It was around 5:30 p.m. when the tanks were appeared one by one. Every tank that came was shot by a RPG bullet from me and Seyyed Saleh. The tanks were fired successive. The next day, the late [Ayatollah Sadeq] Khalkhali said that Khorramshahr is Khorramshahr, it is not al-Muḥammarah, and showed the tanks that we had shot the previous day by RPG.

My next memory with Seyyed Sali was to detect Khorramshahr after fall of Khorramshahr. Martyr Hasan Bagheri, commander of the operation's intelligence, said: "We want to do detection in Khorramshahr and tell us movements and position of the enemy." We returned from a meeting in Golf Region of Ahvaz (determined as IRGC decision making center), which was held every Wednesday, and I told martyr Jahanara that this is the situation. He asked, who do you want to bring with yourself for detection? I said: Seyyed Saleh. The night before detection, we had to fasten a rope from one side of the river to the other, which Iraqis were there. I took the rope in the night and crossed the river and fastened it to columns of a confectionary store and returned. It was summer. The next day we waited till night and then move. Seyyed Sali, another person and I entered the boat. We could not use motor of boat because Iraqis would notice our presence. That's why we pulled the rope which was directed toward the enemy to advance. We entered the city. After eight months, no one had any detection from the city, and did not know where minefields and the enemy's explosive traps were. We slept in the Iraqi line at night. We always find a ruin so that the enemy wouldn't notice. I was also awake and stood guard until the morning due to fear of being captured. In the morning, when the rest woke up, we informed the commander by portable transceiver that we are now in the Iraqi line. We want to move on the line and find the path to enter the city. We informed them that we are insider so that not to shoot the guy. We were about 150 to 200 meters far from Iraqis. It was 2 p.m. that we went and saw that Iraqis had set up a bulwark in the road, and installed barbed wire and laid anti-personnel mines. We did this detection, came back and slept in the same ruins until the morning. It was sunset and we crossed the river again and reported to martyr Jahanara that this is the situation. He said you should go to depth and rear of the Iraqi line and give us a report.
After a few days, again, Seyyed Sali, martyr Mohammad Reza Rabiee and I crossed the river and saw the Iraqi bulwark, but because it was night, we did not know if the Iraqis were behind it or not. Seyyed Sali picked up a stone and threw it at the back of the bulwark and said: "If the Iraqis are, they will react and we will understand." We threw three to four stones and no one reacted. We understood that Iraqis were not. We crossed the bulwark and went into depth of the city. We went to Khorramshahr bakeries at night. Dogs had smelled us and were constantly barking. Again Agha (Mr.) Sali and Rabiee slept in rooftop, and I stood guard until the morning due to fear of being captured! In the morning we moved toward the depth and settled in a house. Mohammad Reza and Seyyed Sali settled in a room in rooftop. I told I go up and see what's going on around. As I went out the room creepingly, I saw that an Iraqi group was coming towards the house where we were. I informed Sali this issue and told him they come to town every day to clearing the city and patrol. We opened the room door and all three positioned back of the door as we heard each other's heartbeat. I was constantly reading Āyat al-Kursī (Al-Baqara 255) and puffing toward the door. Fortunately Iraqis entered the same house. One said I want to go upstairs, and another said, it is a risk, they might shoot. It lasted until sunset and they did not come up. We decided together so that Iraqis can come in and then shoot and capture them. In the sunset, I lightened the way with my small flashlight in order to go toward the river and return. In the alleys, Iraqis had taken off all the doors to use in their trenches. At the end of the alley a dog was barking and moving quickly towards us. We decided to go inside one of the houses and hide behind it wall so that this dog goes. We sat in the house behind the wall and saw the dog calmed down and no longer barked. We said, where did this dog go? As soon as we got our head out of the wall, that dog was behind the wall and barked exactly in front of my face. I had my heart in my mouth and my friends laughed. I became angry and I looked for the dog. It ran away and I followed it. This dog was a divine aid, because it delayed us and caused to arrive late at the street so that the Iraqi machine passes. In fact, a few seconds earlier the Iraqi car had passed. We had taken a good film from the city, and later Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani came to Ahvaz, and we showed him it and said: Hajji this is a very secret and confidential film, we just showed the film to commanders to know how the situation was; a few days later Mr. Rafsanjani pronounced in Tehran's Friday prayer that guys of Khorramshahr had gone and done detection and they took a film of Iraqis who destroy Khorramshahr."

 

 

The nineteen months that the enemy was in Khorramshahr
The second narrator was Morteza Sarhangi, founder of the Office for Literature and Art of Resistance. He said: "This few words I quote are quotes from the Iraqi prisoners in Iran. Almost until the last days Iraqi captives were here, we were in contact with them. There were many prisoners who had been captured in Khorramshahr and were in camps. They quoted things to me, and things also have been written in their books. Perhaps in the world it is unprecedented that a war prisoner in a the country whom is captured write and publish a book, but this happened in Iran, and Iraqi prisoners who were in Iran wrote about 64 to 65 books and went and left for us some keepsakes. I narrate a few points that Iraqis either have quoted or it is in their books or in my memory. The Iraqis were 19 months in Khorramshahr. One thing they did was to open a currency exchange office in Khorramshahr. They did not want to make their soldiers in trouble and take the money they had stolen from banks, stores and houses to Basra, Al-Amara and Baghdad, and change Iranian Rials to Dinar! For this reason, they established a currency change office in Khorramshahr and the soldiers pocketed a lot of money and pleasured. So Iraqis did something and it was establishing a currency exchange office.
One day I spoke with a young officer who was captive in the camp. He said: "I was nineteen, fewer or more, in Khorramshahr, and I can tell you I am the most insomniac in the world. I didn't go inside my sleeping bag safely in Khorramshahr even one night due to afraid of you. I constantly scared that maybe you come. No one knows what the night of Khorramshahr is? What did we suffer in Khorramshahr nights? the nights that did not lead to the morning for us. There was a sergeant named Jabbar who was commando. He was very well-shaped and while he had been captured, he was still in good fitness. He said I was worry and not relaxed at night in Khorramshahr. He said: One night I was a guard sergeant. I dressed very orderly my clothes. I fastened my shot belt and took my colt and stood guide. I was all eyes to around. The weather was hot. I first took off my blouse, then my underwear. Suddenly I found out that I had taken off all my clothes and only one shot belt and colt had remained. A soldier had returned to his service after leave and had come at night. He came in front of to respect, and when he saw me in that state, his knees were bent slowly and fell on his bag, experienced a heart attack, and died of fear!

There was an Iraqi doctor here named Dr. Leith. Once I asked him: this alshsharie alrayiysiu (in Arabic means main street) that the captives tell me so much about it is in which part of Khorramshahr that has had many events? That Iraqi doctor was a Turk and from Kirkuk, and we talked together in Turkish. He said, "alshsharie means street, but alshsharie alrayiysiu means main street." I thought name of the street was Reisi (a Persian family name) because I did not know Arabic, I do not know even now. I said: then everything happened on the main street, and I thought it would happen on Reisi Street! This was one of the mistakes that I made. If you encounter an Iraqi memory in which is written Street of Reisi you know it was my mistake.
Another thing is taking care of these Iraqi captives. The Iranian army very well kept these Iraqi captives, and the food that was given to them was far better than the food I ate in my own newspaper; of course, when I went to the camp, I tried to eat my lunch with Iraqi prisoners. The same lunch was eaten by commanders of garrison and camp, officer of the day, our soldiers and prisoners, and I, as a journalist, who had come out of the camp.
The Iraqi commander who our warriors took Khorramshahr from him was named Ahmad Zeidan. A few days, there was also a colonel named Khamis Makhilev, but the story was originally about Ahmad Zeidan who was mined and everyone thought he had been killed, while he had not been killed. News of Ahmad Zeidan's death undermined everything. They thought they really lost their commander and some discursiveness appeared among Iraqis.
After that our warriors liberated Khorramshahr, there were some points in announcements that were issued by Iraqi army to Iraqi soldiers. One of those points was that Iraqi army forces had said that Al-Muḥammarah is like a pillow on which Basra lays. That is it is for us! One Iraqi officer said that Egyptian, Algerian and even German experts came and saw the defensive wall we had walled in Khorramshahr and said: a modern and advanced army is needed to break this defensive wall, and Iran lacks such an army; therefore, Khorramshahr will be for you forever. Iraqi radio announced weather of Al- Muḥammarah and Khorramshahr when weather of Mosul, Basra and Iraq was announced!

After we captured Khorramshahr, Saddam summoned his commanders and the first word he told his commanders there was that I did not see a man in front of myself. Honor of women in Al-Nahr is more than you. He asks: why did not you use chemical weapons against Iranians? One of the commanders said: "as our troops were close to Iranians, if we used chemical weapons against Iranians, our soldiers would be also damaged." Saddam replies: "if your soldier to be wasted is better or that Al-Muhammarah to be lost? When will we come to Al-Muhammarah? When will Muhammarah to be recaptured? Afterwards, do not take these considerations, use chemical weapons wherever it is needed, and do not worry about your soldiers. Iraqi mothers will give birth to you, do not worry!"
In the end, Sarhangi said about Seyyed Saleh Mousavi: "Seyyed Saleh is a lion who is now sitting on a wheelchair. I've seen Seyyed Saleh both here and in Khorramshahr. Soldiers of war days are beyond price; everywhere in the world are respected. Everywhere in the world, if you see an old man who has a medal on his chest, everyone lets him goes first. I have observed this. We went to Leningrad. There was an old mosque. Four to five old men came with folding seats. The first line of congregation prayers in that mosque was formed by soldiers of the war time, and people let them to go first and opened the way for them."

 

 

The great soul that the enemy surrendered itself to him

The third narrator of the 302nd memory night was Mohammad Javad Sobhani. He said: "On September 22, 1980, at 12 a.m. Iraqi defense minister called for Saddam and said: "Our youth have risen." Saddam said: "So for another half an hour, back of Iran to be broken!" 192 aircrafts bombarded our nineteen cities and airports as Iraqis announced that Iran's planes no longer could rise! On September 22, about 1:30 p.m., twelve divisions and fifteen independent brigades with eight hundred cannons and five thousand tanks attacked our country. Saddam said that we would occupy Khorramshahr in one day, Khuzestan during three days and Iran in one to two weeks, and when he interviewed, he said: "The interview will be completed in Ahvaz!
Our army (Artesh) and air force shined during the holy defense. One of the grandees said that Imam Khomeini summoned us. Everybody was shocked that what will happen? During a week, Iraqis advanced a hundred to 120 kilometers on some axes. Imam, in front of such the invasion, said that a robbery has come and thrown a stone and escaped; we will Saddam slap in a way that will never rise. Imam said whether the gentlemen are afraid? If you have to install barbed wire around Tehran, you have to fight, don't give ransom the enemy.
Their highest goal was to eliminate Islamic Revolution, disintegrate Khuzestan, and attach a part of Khuzestan to Iraq. They wrote in their books that Al-Muhammarah returned to motherland! We were not prepared. We gave 2600 martyrs before September 22; in border clashes, at border posts and in artillery. Alongside this number of martyrs, many of our troops were also captured and injured. One of the friends reported that we brought two thousand people by train to Ahvaz and we had only fifty guns. You have heard this memory from Mr. Mohsen Rafighdoost who said: Martyr Kolahdooz, one of Imam's forces who was in Imperial Guard before the revolution, called me and said: "I will ask you a thousand G3 for IRGC. I did not have. Army brothers also collaborated. I asked and they said Mr. Bani-Sadr should write. I asked where is Mr. Bani-Sadr? They said he is in Dezful. He said: I went quickly to Dezful. I arrived and saw Mr. Mohammad Gharazi, then governor of Khuzestan, was standing. I asked: what's going on? He said Mr. Bani-Sadr had a meeting for three hours and there was no seat for me to sit. I'm waiting for him to come out. I was waiting for Mr. Bani-Sadr and when he came out I said I need a thousand G3. He replied go and take from your masters. I asked: Who are my masters?! Calling their family names, he said take from martyr Beheshti, Hazrat-e Agah [Ayatollah Khamenei] and Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani. Since Mr. Rafighdoost is good at repartee, he said, "It is true that they are my masters, but the gun is in your hand, and you must give it to me." He said: I do not give, do whatever you want. He said: "I went toward his driver, lay in front of the car. He was in charge for IRGC logistic and later elected as minister of IRGC. Bani-Sadr asked: What do you want from me? Rafighdoost says I said: "I will not go until you give me weapon." He wrote give me a thousand G3. I returned happily, and when I arrived in Tehran, the brothers said that Bani Sadr called and said I wrote but do not give him weapon! Hajj Ahmad Agha, the Imam's memento, said that we received 9 RPG weapons from Mr. Bani-Sadr after much request and plea and said happily that we sent guns for guys of IRGC!

In Khorramshahr the guys fought with their body against tanks. They resisted 34 days. Saddam, with all his armored and ammunition, had come to capture Khorramshahr in one day, Khuzestan in three days and Iran in one to two weeks. Iraqi commander of Division 10 announced my troops should take off their boots in Tehran! All calculations also showed this. Who did stand against them? I think anonymous people who are still unknown. For example, how is called name of martyr Mohammad Hassan Sharif Qunuti? He was a fighting cleric before the revolution. The people went so spontaneously and defended Khorramshahr. United Nations declared Iraq as invader after ten years. Throughout this era when we fought with Iraqis in 1609 kilometers, in our three to four provinces, close to 20,000 guerrillas also fought us. Twenty thousand guerrillas are enough for collapsing a government. Democrat Party announced that I have twelve thousand guerrillas. In all forests of Kurdistan and West Azarbaijan and in part of Kermanshah, we had this problem. Komala Party had eighteen groups. Different kinds of groups fought with us. Wherever we went, there was mine and conflict. When we crossed a road, some shot RPG from forest and hit the car. Who managed this situation? These young heroes of this country, brave Artesh and Basij and a lot and endless public forces. They recaptured span by span of soil of the country from the enemy and pushed them out of the country.
Let me tell you a memory. We had fifteen thousand submissive in the end of the war when we came from the war zone. Imam said that they should return to the nation's embrace. For example, we asked: What wars did you participate? He said: "I've been in ten to twenty wars!" Poultryman or tractor would be given to them to be attracted and not leave the country; someone who had fought us five or ten years ago! One of jailors of Democrat Party stated from the part of the previous jailor that Democrat Party condemned prisoners to execution by firing squad! They told one of Democrat commanders to tell us something from Basij forces memories, he told, "We had 400 prisoners in hands of the Democratic Party in Dole-to Prison. Democrat Party judge was trying a Basij force. Those who had Pasdar (IRGC's force) card did not have a trial, they were executed immediately! That judge told a 16-year-old Basij that you are a mercenary. The Basij force said, "Mr. Judge! Justice Minister of Democrat Party! Open your bag and see American dollars and Iraqi dinars are in your bag or in my pocket? I have come to defend this nation and Kurdish people; where did you come from?! The judge said in Kurdish in prison of Dole-to: "I am at a loss for words, it's a pity to kill him." He wrote a letter and ordered: Take him to near Sardasht and then release him. This great soul surrendered him."
In the 302nd session of night of memory, Seyyed Saleh Mousavi was appreciated and there was book launch of the book "Roshanaye Khatereha (Brightness of Memories)", the latest work of Morteza Sarhangi.

 

 


[1] Those days comrades of Seyyed Saleh Mousavi called him "Sali".



 
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