SABAH (58)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (58)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019

Chapter thirteen

On the ninth day of second month of autumn, after saying morning prayers, we were sitting in a hall located on the ground floor of the hotel allocated to female team members when we heard a humming voice among Islamic Fadaiyan team members. A few seconds later, Abbas Alivand came towards us terrified and told us: “The Iraqis have come inside Abadan!”

It was as if a bucket of ice poured on my head. I felt a little trembling all over my body. I was not able to control my knees shaking. If they could siege Abadan, the fall of Khuzestan was final. Alivand said: “The Abadan army forces say that the Iraqis have come inside Zolfaghari ….” I asked: “Are you sure?” He said: “Definitely! A person called Darya Gholi Sourani has first gone to Abadan army told them what has happened, then had gone to every mosque and public locations and gave them the news. They haven’t accepted his words at the beginning and have even bit the poor guy!”

I could understand Darya Gholi well. For one instance I remembered the fifth day of first month of autumn; I remembered the day when we took injured to Taleghani hospital with Maryam Amjadi. After delivering the patient, we went to Pirouz mosque with the driver who had brought us to the hospital. He had a task to take care of there. Pirouz mosque was crowded like Khorramshahr Jame mosque and many people commuted. Maryam and I were sitting in a corner eating two bites of bread which had rice inside and were given to us in mosque. A number of women who were in mosque came to us. When they realized that we are from Khorramshahr, they wanted to ask out the situation. I told them that the situation is very bad and the Iraqis have progressed. We have neither force or any weapons and ammunition. The government takes no action either. Instead of taking care of the city and the public, they are waiting for the city to fall. They went away after having a talk. At that time, one of the girls in the mosque came to us hastily and said: “Hurry up and go away from here. They want to surrender you for being fifth column member.” It could not be funnier than this! We were saying the truth but were being convicted for being a spy and a hypocrite. If we hadn’t acted quickly and hadn’t exited the mosque, we could be in trouble.

After hearing what Alivand had said, a reverberation was among public. We were still in the shock of fall of Khorramshahr. Only four five days had passed since this bitter accident and we really did not expect to hear such a thing. An individual asked: “How have they entered?!”

Alivand said: “they have turned around stations 7 and 9 and have set up a bridge on Bahman Shir and have brought a large number of soldiers and tanks inside Zolfaghari.”

Until that day and after fall of Khorramshahr, the Iraqis had constantly targeted the margin of Karoun, station 7 and Kafisheh. But now, based on Abbas’s saying, their objective and route was obvious. If they stabilized their location in Zolfaghari, they could siege Khosro Abad road and after passing from Khezr Prophet, reach to Arvand. With his strategy, a connection would be created from Arvand to Iraq and Abadan would fall into the hands of Iraqis very easily.

If they sieged Abadan, they would get control of the aperture of Persian Gulf. In that scenario, they would have dominance over oil refinery and would feel secure in the middle of their forces and they just had to fight with opposite side. In that situation, they would walk towards Hamid and Ahwaz garrison very contently and Kouzestan would be on verge of fall.

Men were talking about going to front line. They had not decided where to go and what to do, that I said: “I am coming!” There was in instance of silence. Belgheys and Keshvar also backed me up saying: “We are coming too.”

Abbas Alivand had a loud and thick voice. When he heard three of us saying that we want to go, he got angry and said: “What does this mean? I am coming, I am coming! An area when we do not know what is going on in there, is no place for women? End of conversation!”

I did not go back on my words and said: “but I am coming. I have been to front line before and you know that.”

My spirits were harder and tougher compared to lots of girls around me. I was also quick and sharp and was able to compete with boys. I had been to the front line before too. Therefore, when I repeated myself that I was going, Alivand did not say anything. When I went to front line in Khorramshahr for the first time, I was with Alivand but it was as if he had forgotten it.

Male soldiers who were mostly from Fadaiyan Islam group, got ready; around five hundred people; forces who were present in conflicts of Kout Sheikh Front for days. Kout Sheikh front was very sensitive. If only a part of would be ignored by our soldiers, the Iraqis would find the change to target the bridge and pass from the water and enter Abadan.

I returned to the hall to collect some aid items and place them in my bag and accompany them. I took bandages, gauzes, Betadine and Sav lone as much as my bag had capacity. A had a small note book with leather cover too. This had been given to Zahra Hosseini by a soldier and she had given it to me. Sometimes when I felt sad, I wrote some memoirs in it or did a drawing. I took the notebook along with my weapon and went to the yard.

Alivand said nothing when he saw my determined face. One of the girls objected: “How come you are taking Sabbah!” Alivand said: “Sister Sabbah is different. She has been to front line a few times before. It is not her first time …”

Besides the Fadaiyan Islam forces, around two hundred individuals from Khorramshahr were also ready to go to front line. Except for Dr. Sa’adat and Ghasem Farrokhi, brother of Mahmoud Farrokhi who was a soldier and had just arrived; I only knew Alivand, Masoud Paki, Hassan Sorkhou and Lack, Masoumeh’s brother. Masoumeh was the spouse of martyr Haydar Haydari;

29 June 2020 - 320

The same person who had been martyred during the first days of war in border conflicts Dr. Mostafavi who was a member of aid team and had joined us since a few days ago, accompanied us. We got into the pick-ups, Jeeps and Toyotas who were parked at the hotel quickly and set out.

We reached Khosro Abad. Khosro Abad was one located in the most south part of Abadan and had many brick kilns. At the check point and inspection of the army, we got off and continued our journey towards brick kilns. The army artillery and Khosro Abad garrison was also stationed there.

There were many kinds of different people among the forces. There were army people from Abadan and Fadaieyan Islam forces as well as public forces. All those individuals who had heard the news of Iraqis entering Zolfaghari alley, had come to stop the case of Khorramshahr to be repeated. The forces went constantly from one dike to another and shot towards enemy forces enchanting God is great[1].

We went one by one and slowly. Behind one of the long and wide dikes which were prepared by army forces who had been located in Khosro Abad, we took position and started shooting towards Iraqis. They did not leave our shootings without reply. With the fire that the army artillery was pouring in Iraqis, we could move forwards one more dike towards the Zolfaghari palm groves.

We could not see the Iraqis but their bullets and mortar bombs kept coming towards us constantly. We all took trench behind a dike. I saw a number of army forces of Khorramshahr there. When I approached and greeted them, they frowned and greeted me coldly and angrily. They knew me and they knew that I am Ali’s sister. It was obvious that they were upset to see me among all those male soldiers. For me it was not important what they think of me. I did not want any injured soldier to be left without timely and primary treatment. I wanted so much to approach them and ask them about wellbeing of Ali but their behavior did not let me.

A few minutes had passed since we had arrived. One soldier shouted aid worker! Aid worker!

I ran towards the shouter before anybody else moved. A few meters away, the shrapnel from a mortar bomb had injured the hands of a fighter seriously. His hand was hanging from waist down and was attached by a piece of skin. He was bleeding badly. I did not know what to do with the hand. I had nothing to be able to prevent the detachment of the hand. First, I bandaged the wound firmly with gauze to decrease the volume of bleeding. Then I looked around and saw a piece of cardboard on the ground. I took it and put it under his forearm and placed the waist gently on it. Although the cardboard was thick but it quickly soaked into blood, with the help of lots of bandages and gauzes, I attached the waist to the cardboard in the form of a splint to prevent it from being detached while he was being transferred.

The injured soldiers were around seventeen eighteen years old. First, he was chanting God is great loudly but when I started bandaging his hand, he was moaning in pain and was shouting: “I am burning! I am burning!”

I felt sorry for him. Nobody knew how much pain he endured. I felt that he was terrified because of massive bleeding. My hands and dress were covered in blood. When my hand touched the torn fleshes in his waist, I felt bad. I was fainting. While I was attending to him, I told him constantly: “Brother! Have patience. It is not serious. With the help of God, we will soon get you to the hospital and they will attend to you there. God is great. Don’t worry.”

We had to get him to the hospital quickly. I injected an angiocath for him and then sent him to the hospital with one of the vehicles that had brought us here. He was the worst case we had until noon.


To be continued …


[1] “… On that historic and memorable day, I witnessed this great epic. On the way to Khosrowabad, a 15- to 16-year-old boy had a train of M1 guns wrapped around him, but my gun did not have one! Elsewhere I saw a young man who had a gun but no bullet! The people went to war alone with the enemy with M1, J3 and even clubs. I saw an old man with a long stick tied in front of his bicycle and the women were riding towards Zolfaghari groves. Seeing all this courage, faith, patriotism and effort, I was proud of myself and my tears flowed. Everyone was rushing towards Zolfaghari. Old, young, believer, prayer leader! "In some places, there was a hand-to-hand battle and the two sides were killed by bayonets." Excerpted from the book "Soldier of Cloudy Years" Memoirs of Abdolhossein Benadari, the then Commander of the Abadan Corps, Fatehan Publications, pp. 138 and 139.

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