295th Night of Memory

Memories of battle of Division of Imam Hossain (AS) in Operation Karbala 3

Maryam Rahabi
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


The 295th program of Night of Memory of the Scared Defense was held in Sooreh Hall of the Art Center on Thursday 27th of September 2018. In this program, Hossein Rezaee, Seyed Ahmad Mousavi, Ghadir Ali Sarami, Ali Shah Nazari and Mahmoud Najimi recounted their memoirs of the Operation Karbala 3.


Valfajr 8 completed with Karbala 3

Haj Hasan Rezaee, the person in charge of the operational area in the Operation Karbala 3 was the first narrator of the show. He said, “The reason for entrusting this operation to Imam Hossain (AS) Division was that it had a stronghold near Karoun River and the diver’s combatants were being trained in Karoun for Operation Valfajr 8. Only one company of the division was involved in the operation and two or three other companies were ready to carry out an operation in another area. Another reason was that the mission was handed over by the headquarters to the division. Haj Hossain Kharazi was the commander of Imam Hossain Division and when the mission was handed over to the division, he filled two boats with full capacity to support the operation. Haj Hossain justified for them the entire missions related to two target docks and came back. 



Haj Hossain was in Mecca (for performing Haj pilgrimage) during Operation Karbala 3 and his deputy Mohammad Abu Shahab acted as the commander. In fact, the commandership of Imam Hossain (AS) Division in Operation Karbala 3 was handed over to Mr. Abu Shahab in the absence of Haj Hossain Kharazi. When the operation was going to start, the combatants had exercised and were ready, but they had planned to carry out the operation at night. An order came from the headquarters that you should leave for Kharg Island and train for 10 to a5 days, and then come back and prepare for the operation. We went to Kharg Island and exercised. There was a dock in Kharg named Azarpad which was almost like Al-Omayyeh Dock (one of the targets) and we exercised on the dock. After exercising on the dock, we also carried out a military drill in the Kharg Island. Then, 10 to 12 days before the operation, the guys were deployed in Khosro Abad border to exercise diving, and then they were trained for the operation. The divers left the area and besieged and occupied the like Al-Ummayyeh Dock. Brigadier General Ahmad Mousavi was the person in charge of the intelligence department of the operation and the commander of the divers’ battalion. The length of the path the divers had to carry out diving was about three kilometers. We considered an infantry battalion for the operation and the Battalion of Imam Reza (PBUH) was supposed to be deployed there after the end of the operation and defend the dock. The divers were on the verge of seizing the dock that I along with Mr. Mohammad Ali Shafiee and a steersman went toward the dock by a boat. We said our morning prayer inside the boat. Our boat was within the range of the dock. We said Allah-o Akbar (God is greatest) and at the same time, asked the steersman to driver toward the right. We said Allah-o Akbar (God is greatest) and at the same time, asked the steersman to driver toward the left, and in this way, we said our prayer. When we reached on the dock and went up the dock’s stairs, saw that Mr. Ahmad Shahter Pour who was a diver and was martyred in Operation Karbala 4, was saying prayer. We also said the morning prayer led by Mr. Shater Pour. When the operation of the divers was finished and occupied the dock, the Battalion of Imam Reza (PBUH) was involved and the divers’ battalion was sent back. Two infantry battalions of Imam Mohmmad Baqer (PBUH) and Imam Musa Ibn-e Jafar were prepared to cooperate with Imam Reza Battalion and the divers’ battalion if we failed to seize the dock; thanks God, they were not needed.

When we arrived on the dock, we were bombed and fired at by the frigates so much that I continuously ran back and forth. At around 10 PM, Mr. Abu Shahab as the division commander and Mr. Mahmoud Assadi who was martyred in an operation for retaking Fav, came to help us. We asked him to be careful so that not to be injured. At 10 PM, a missile was fired at Umm-ol Ghasr and hit the dock directly. We kept the dock for 24 hours. Our goal was not to keep but to destroy it and retreat. The next day when we wanted to come back, the enemy’s jetfighters came to bomb us but since the boats were small, thanks God, they failed. We just had a boat on which a tank had been put to support the dock. The tank was not able to move like speed boats and moved a little slowly, but thanks God nobody was injured and the Al-Ommayeh Dock was occupied and then bombarded. A few hours later, the Al-Bakr Dock was bombarded by us. The Operation Valfajr 8 was completed by Operation Karbala 3 the goal of which was the occupation and bombardment the two docks.           


Along with Yunis Battalion until enemy’s dock

The second narrator of the show was Seyed Ahmad Mousavi. He said, “The battalion of the divers of Imam Hossain Division was named Hazrat Yunis Battalion and I was in charge of the intelligence department of the division’s operation. The setting up of Hazrat Yunis Battalion was left to the intelligence department of the division’s operation according to a plan by martyr Kharazi. In view of the fact that we in Operation Badr had the first experiences of diving in the reconnaissance operations, and then the intelligence guys were trained diving for the first time, martyr Kharazi took a decisive step, asking the commanders to send the breakthrough forces of the infantry battalions of the Imam Hossain (AS) Division; it meant that he asked some twenty forces from every battalion who were readier than the rest. First, they came as the ones who were going to be trained and returned to the battalions, but eventually, when they were trained by the combatants of the operational intelligence unit, the responsibility of this battalion was left to me and I appointed Mr. Hasan Ghorbani as my deputy. Finally, some twenty staff of the intelligence unit who were prepared to carry out operations, entered the battalion and the Hazrat Yunis Battalion came into existence as a prepared battalion for every operation.”



General Mousavi continued, “Martyr Kharazi summoned me and one of the commanders of a battalion named Haj Nasser Ali Babaee who was the commander of Mussa Ibn-e Jafar (AS) to the commandership room as the first ones whom he wanted to leave the mission of Operation Karbala 3 to them. Haj Hossain Kharazi was a commander who had carried out various clandestine operations and we were also with him in several operations. He had really strange spirits and a good experience in this regard, but had no special view toward water operations and liked the operation to be carried out on the ground. He said that we have an additional enemy in the water. He said that we have been left a mission to occupy the Al-Ommayeh Dock located twenty kilometers from the Persian Gulf waterway by Imam Hossain Division. Martyr Kharazi turned to me as the person responsible for the operational intelligence unit and the commander of Hazrat Yunis Battalion and then to Haj Nasser Ali Babaee as the commander the Logistic Battalion and said, “What do you want to say?” I asked him whether we should carry out the mission. He said that apparently we must do and then I said so we would do, as we carried out the previous ones. God will help us. I saw the smile of Haj Hossain that day. He was happy that the commanders obeyed him. 

The grounds for the operation were prepared. When we started training to the forces of Hazrat Yunis Battalion, a number of guys were ready since the Operation Valfajr 8 and a number of fresh forces were added to us because we needed more divers. The added forces had to be prepared for breakthrough operation and had high morale. On the other hand, they had to be prepared physically. Some of the forces who entered the battalion did not have big and strong body and from the outset, we told them that you could not come to this battalion. Some of them asked us with tears to take any exam that you liked from us. And we said to three younger divers to go to that side by pedaling in the water and diving clothes and the water should not distract you. It was a difficult job and they tried to do this. On the whole, the people who entered the battalion before the Operation Karbala 3 were some 17 years old, but they were fully ready. We trained the guys in Karoun River for some one month. Then, they were taken to an area which was closer to the Persian Gulf waters. There was a stream in the mouth of the Persian Gulf named Ghasemiyah. We went and deployed in the palm-groves beside Arvand River. We started training in the mouth of the Persian Gulf in August 1986 until 2nd of September when the operation was carried out. The temperature was some 60 degrees during the days we were in the palm-groves. The weather was so humid that the clothes did not dehydrate, but the guys tolerated the situation in this hot weather. In those days, I considered one of my missions to give morale to the guys and said that God would help us. In that situation, we tried to cool them at any possible way, because they were really fading away. Their bodies had blistered as a result of the hot weather and when they swam in the salty water, their bodies were burnt. Sometimes, when they wanted to sleep and put their back on the ground, they shouted and could not sleep as a result of the burning of their bodies’ injury. The mosquitoes there also bothered them and we tried to bring a generator and set up a fan in every trench but when we brought the generator, it did not work for more than half an hour and broke down. We were also in Kharg Island for a week and our trainings were completed. We carried out a military drill on Azarpad Dock in order to exercise our operational plan. When we arrived in Kharg Island in that hot weather, we were told that there was a movie theatre and a Hosseiniyeh in the island which were cooler than other places and many air conditioners were working there. The diver guys went toward the Hosseiniyeh and the Imam Reza Battalion to the movie theatre. When we arrived and said the noon prayer, the power went off at the peak of heat. The authorities in Kharg Island said that we controlled everything here and this was unprecedented. The first day that we arrived and the guy were tried and had to take a rest, they were in the heat again. I told the battalion forces that God says help me in order to help you. It had happened that the guys had slept for two hours as a result of the extreme tiredness and had sweated so much that I thought a tap had been opened around them. I started crying by seeing the scene. I told them that you would win the more you tolerate the hardship. They did this just with their own tolerance and preparedness. When they want to involve in the operation, a situation happened that we arrived there later. We were about twenty kilometers far from the dock and we landed the divers three kilometers remained from the dock. When they were landed and wanted to go for the operation, their word was that Haj Agha Mousavi! Either you do not see us anymore or see on the dock! This showed the preparedness of our forces.

The divers moved toward the dock and we estimated that they would arrive in the dock some two and a half hours later, but after one hour, our connection with the divers was cut due to the difficulties happened for portable transceivers. The sun was rising. The Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and the headquarters’ commander who were there decided to return the forces who were behind, because if the sun rose, the boats and forces who were there were not safe. That moment was a difficult one for me. I told Mr. Abu Shahab that I have worked with these divers for two months and now how should they be returned back?  Let me go forward with a boat to see how the situation is. We went forward with a boat. We moved some two kilometers and saw the dock with our own eyes but there was no sign of the divers on the dock. We had a unit whose commander was speaking in Arabic. The Iraqi transceivers were eavesdropped by the unity and it said that the Iraqis were saying that we were attacked. And we found out that there was exchange of fire in the dock. When we were informed of the news, both us and the forces who were retreating starting moving toward the dock quickly. When the divers were forwarding toward the dock and their connection with us was cut, they were doing their work in order to reach to the dock. In view of the lost opportunity, the flow of water war was going back. We had predicted that the guys would reach the dock as long as the ebb continued but when they had reached the dock, the flow of water had been changed and the tide had started. The flow of water pushed the divers’ chests; nevertheless, they tried to reach themselves to the dock. We had divided our company to three parts and had planned to enter the dock form three places. Two parts of the company got out of the dock due to the water’s pressure and could reach, but one part of the company whose commander was Mr. Mehdi Mazaheri were more prepared and managed to reach themselves to near the dock with much attempt. When Mr. Mazaheri saw that the water’s pressure was pushing them out of the way, he and two others went toward the dock. On the other hand, Mr. Shater Pour was directing the guys toward the dock and once they arrived at the dock, it was near the morning. Those three came to the dock when the enemy's guards were in a state of sleep and awakening. They attacked on a number of people who were on the dock’s pad and the enemy got to know. Then, the rest of the company came up and seized half of the dock. When we arrived, we attacked the second half of the dock in the daylight. We captured some 150 enemy forces some 30 to 40 of whom were killed by their own missiles on the same day. Finally, the equipment that was there were used and then destroyed.”


We were three…

The third narrator of the show was Ghadir Ali Sarami. He said, “I was working in the operational intelligence unit of Imam Hossain Division. The unit’s task was to recognize the operational area before an operation. The reconnaissance should be done and as long as the person does not go and see the area with his own visual eyes, it is not trusted by the commander. Thus, a person had to go for the operation of al-Ummayeh Dock and touched it and came back. It was also the case on the ground, and every area given to the Division of Imam Hossain (AS), the forces of the operational intelligence unit had to go and carried out the reconnaissance. It meant that they themselves watched the operational area at a close range and brought information about that area so that the commander trusted them. This was also the case in Operation Karbala 3. They had photos from al-Ummayeh Dock and maquettes existed in the intelligence unit but the commander did not accept them. The commander made a decision on how an operation was going to be carried out according to the information given by the operational intelligence unit and this was a rule in every unit. With these explanations, the mission of al-Ummayeh Dock was given to us. 



We were three; Mr. Mehdi Mazaheri, Mr. Ahmad Shater Pour and I. We were more skilled than other divers and had no other feature. We exercised for some 10 to 15 days round-the-clock in Arvand River waterway. We had to exercise because we needed to dive some five kilometers. Martyr Kharazi came and watched our exercise for the first few days that he had not still gone to Mecca. We had to go and carry out the reconnaissance. They supervised our exercises and the person in charge of the operational intelligence and the division commander came and watched our exercises closely. Our exercises finished, but we had a unit called Jazr-o Mad or Ebb and Tide whose head was Abd al-Rashid Shamandi. Jazr-o Mad would fix the night when we should go for the operation. We could not choose a special night for the operation. Since the operation was going to be carried out in the water, the time of ebb, the time of the water's stagnation and the time of tide should be determined. They fixed the time of our move for the area's reconnaissance. We went for reconnaissance on 12th of August 1986. We were boarded on a boat at eight PM and sailed some twenty kilometers. The al-Ummayeh Dock was about 25 kilometers far from the land; it meant that the dock was almost in the middle of the Persian Gulf. The boat was stopped within five kilometers form the dock and we three got off. Brigadier General Hossain Rezaee Ardestani who was in charge of the operational area and General Mousavi saw us off. We got off the boat while we were connected together. The divers are connected together by rope in any operation and if any diver wants to go alone, he will be released, because the wave hits the diver's chest and moves him away.it was 9 PM when got off the boat and went two kilometers. The first one who was Mr. Shater Pour had spent the higher course of diving. He should have come with us because working with a compass in the waters of the Persian Gulf is very hard and everyone who wants to read a compass must use snorkel or the narrow breathing tube which gets oxygen from the top. Ahmad Shater Pour had to keep his head down because the diving compass is like a watch and its head should be inside the water so that it can be read. We were chasing Ahmad shatter Pour. After two kilometers, the charge of the compass was finished. For recharge, you must come up the water and charge it with a flashlight. We came up and circled and all three of us threw the light of our flashlights on the compass inn order to be recharged. When we came up the water to recharge the compass, Ahmad Shater Pour said that my body was shivering very strangely and the person responsible for reconnaissance did not pay any attention and we continued our way. One kilometer later, we observed a shadow of the dock and did not need the compass anymore. My body was also started shivering. The shivering happened every five or six minutes and the more we approached the dock, the shivering increased more. The water had a chemical state and from the very beginning, our noses started blowing, and the water was found to be phosphoric. We were afraid of this and thought to be under the dock; from this state of phosphorus that the water creates, the enemy on the dock could see us. We were worried about this, but had to move. When we were going toward the dock, it was and ebb, namely the water was flowing toward the dock and this state helped us. Sometimes when we were hit by a wave, it brought us up and when we came down, our way had been changed for ten meters and we had to set and determine the way again. This state was also created for the divers in an operation.

When we saw the shadow, started moving toward the dock while sniffling repeatedly. When we went a little forward, found out that the Iraqis had prepared explosives. The materials went five to six meters deep into the water and were exploded, and that was the reason for the shivering that was created for us. They never imagined that a diver comes from the surface of the water. They thought that if a diver came toward the dock, he would come from the depth of the water and then the explosives were blown off and brought the diver on the water motionlessly and the entire diver's nervous system was cut off. We moved slowly and reached near the dock with just five hundred meters away from it. It was 11 PM and the stars were shining. We went the five hundred meters while praying. We did not sniffle anymore at a distance of one hundred meters form the dock due to the water's chemical current and went forward with the flow of water. The length of the dock was about one kilometers and its width was form one and a half to one hundred meters. The width in the areas where their residential hotels were located was one hundred meters and in the corridors or the place of connection between northern parts to the southern ones was about one and a half meters. When we reached under the dock, released our hands from each other in order to get a pillar of the dock. When our hands touch the pillar, the palms of all three of us were torn down, because the water of the sea was salty and bitter and now they had hit the metal and found a state of sharpness. The area's sensitiveness and our work had made us to forget that the skin of our palms had been torn out. A circled barbed wire had been thrown on the stairs in front of the dock and nobody could go up. There was a stairway behind the dock through which the Iraqis used for bringing the sea water. Mehdi ran toward the stairway and I and Mr. Shater Pour stood beside the pillar. When Mehdi moved toward the stairway, the Iraqis doubted, calling their guard to negotiate with each other. Here, Ahmad Shater Pour asked me repeatedly to pray and I was worried that they found us and the operation was disclosed. There, I told him something which I am still shameful. Mr. Mehdi ordered us to carry out the reconnaissance. Our work took about one hour and recognized all the weapons. We were told that if you can, stay there and come back tomorrow which was not possible in view of the conditions on the dock. The tide started and when the reconnaissance was finished, we went back while sniffling. General Rezaee was supposed to come by boat up to two kilometers away. Whatever we used the light of the flashlight so that they saw and us and came, but they did not, and we had to go back again the same five kilometers that we had gone. We asked them why they did not follow us? They said that we wanted it to be both back and forth; that is, we wanted to know whether you were able to go and come back again. When we got on the boat, each of us drank about four liters of water. When we were returning, it was near the morning Azan or call for prayer and we said prayer. We went to the headquarters and handed over the full report of reconnaissance.


We made attempt step by step

The fourth narrator of the show was Ali Shah Nazari, the commander of Imam Reza (AS) Battalion form the Battalion of Imam Hossain (AS) during the Operation Karbala 3. He said, “At 5 Am, on 2nd of September 1986, some four hours had been passed since the divers had left form the five kilometers of al-Ummayeh Dock and we were very anxious. The divers neither had been able to seize the dock nor had returned. 140 brave young people had gone and we had no news of them. Amid the anxiety, we found out that part of the dock the length of which was one kilometer had been seized by a group of them. We had come to shore of the Persian Gulf to support the divers so that as soon as they reached to the dock, we go and help them. I was supposed to move with the boats as the pioneer. It was early in the morning that we were informed. I told the guys to say morning prayer inside the boat. All the guys jumped into the boats. Our boat had two engines and was very speedy. I remember that the tide had happened and the flow of water was against the dock’s direction. We sailed on the waves so fast that sometimes the two engines’ propellers were completely out of the water. We tightened the two edges of the boat with two hands and said the morning prayer in the same state. Smoke and fire had risen from the dock, which we saw as soon as we moved. On our way, the Ba’athi jetfighters attacked our boats. The guys shot down one of MiG jetfighters. The MiG went into the water and we got very happy. For comforting the guys, one of the Basiji (volunteer) forces said: do not be afraid, these are poultries! 



It took half an hour that we reached the dock’s pad. We reached and saw that Brigadier General Mohsen Rezaee was there. He asked us to take the guys up. They had pulled off the barbed wires of the stairs and I told them to go up. Our first move after passing the pad was to pass a corridor located at the beginning of the dock and the Ba’athists fired at it heavily. As two of the youngest forces of our battalion were martyred, the rest of them could pass this dangerous angle. When we went forward, there was a space between the two parts of the dock. There was a wooden bridge on that side of the dock. The Ba’athists had built this piece of the dock which was some 50 meters long with a wooden bridge and metal belts rolled around it and we had to pass over the bridge. It was really worrisome and risky. The Iraqis saw the only way of their rescue in destroying the bridge. Thus, when I ran on the bridge, they started firing and I was shot in the groin which was very painful. I put my hand on the wound and ran toward other part of the dock. Finally, the guys managed to pass over the bridge. It was very hard. It was daylight and the enemy was seeing us and we had no shelter and it was likely that we were shot. Here, the guys did their best and showed self-sacrifice.

I remember that martyr Mahmoud Assadi Pour whose mission was to come to the area, was a close friend of me. I asked him to come and take the forces forward. He said that I did not know them and I replied that you must come with us for increasing our morale. I along with him and a clergy named Mr. Tavassoli and martyr Haj Rajab Ali Shah Rajabian left. We did our best to seize the dock step by step. Finally, we reached two hundred meters away from the end of the dock beside a three-storey metal building that the guys called it a hotel. There were four anti-aircraft cannons around the installations. As we were fighting, we reached to one of these anti-aircraft cannons. Many of the ammunition they had consumed had been dumped around it. Suddenly, I noticed that one of the Iraqis was hiding under these shells and ammunition boxes. He was hiding there with an underwear. It was so hot air that both me and him had sweated and his wrist slid in my hands. I didn't know Arabic and he didn't know Farsi. I had a flare gun in my equipment. I took it out and by shouting, made him understand to sit behind the anti-aircraft cannon which until now was firing at us, and fire at themselves. We did not have a lot of equipment and wanted to create panic with the sound of this anti-aircraft in order to seize the rest of the dock. He eventually took me under the tube of the cannon and I saw that he had fired at us so much that the tube had become hot and cracked. I asked him to go and sit behind another cannon and shoot, but it was within the range and they fired at it continuously. He feared to sit behind it and shoot. Finally, he went and started shooting as a result of which a huge sound was heard and caused all of the Ba'athists who had escaped into the metal building, came out of it. But it was not enough yet and the shooting still continued. A translator reached from the back and asked him to tell the Iraqi soldier that we send him forward from the corridor to go and tell his friends that if they surrendered, we would capture and do not kill them. He accepted and went and told them. They accepted and came. At that bottom, there was just and just the commander of the camp and a woman who escaped with an inflatable boat and we tried to stop them by shooting at them but we did not. We asked them to take their shirts off in order to recognize the captives out of our forces. When we were coming back, I said: death to Saddam and all of the Ba'athists repeated. We took them under the pad in order to transfer them to the back, but all of a sudden I saw a red thing was coming toward us from Um al-Ghasr. They had targeted the pad in the beginning of the dock. The missile hit the pad and landed. Some 30 to 40 captives were killed and a number of our martyrs were shattered under the pad."



Looking for divers  

The fifth narrator of the show was Mahmoud Najimi. In continuation of the memoirs of other narrators about the operation Karbala 3, he said, "The IRGC commandership sent an order for us to cancel the operation. Mr. Abu Shahab asked the boats to return back slowly. In the last moment, I went to Abu Shahab and asked him whether I can go and board Mr. Mazaheri and then come back. He paused a little but allowed me to go near the morning when all of us were supposed to return back. Four of us sat in a two-engine boat. We approached the dock and saw that there were four boats nearby and the enemy was shooting at them; Mr. Mousavi's boat, Mr. Ali Fadavi's boat and the boat of Mr. Akbar Rezaee who was from the Navy unit and now our boat which had been added to them. Each of us were looking for the divers from different sides to board and return them back I was just looking for Mr. Mazaheri. We sailed toward the helicopter's pad and saw a number of the divers. I said that the Iraqis are killing us, let's take a few of them and get back. One said that there was a conflict on the dock, and I told myself that he had become paranoid. We went down to the dock very fast, and said to DShK man to shoot at the dock. I also started shooting with my gun. When we approached, I saw that the divers were on the dock and led us to the flashlights. When we reached and informed them, Mr. Abu Shahab was praying Ziarat Ashura. After the operation, Mr. Shahter Pour said in an interview that the boat was driving toward us very fast, we lit the flashlight and he shot at us! As soon as I hear this, I started shivering. Immediately, I got on the bike and went to Mr. Mazaheri. I asked that when you were on the dock and a boat showered you with bullets, was anybody shot? He asked me the reason. I said that we were in that boat. He said that thanks God nobody was shot and I took a deep breath." 



At the end of the program, a ceremony for unveiling three sacred defense books titled "Thirteen in Seven", "Aren't You an Iranian", and "My Share of Love" was held.

The 295th program of Night of Memory of the Scared Defense was held in Sooreh Hall of the Art Center on Thursday 27th of September 2018. The next program will be held on 25th of October 2018.      

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