The Khomeini regime's official positions and propaganda during and after the Eternal Light operation were ridiculously contradictory and indicated profound fear and haste.
The regime initially tried to portray the Eternal Light operation as an "Iraqi attack." It is, however, common knowledge that neither party to the eight-year Iran-Iraq war had ever penetrated 150 kilometers inside the other's territory. Furthermore, the local populace witnessed the reality. Consequently, the Khomeini regime was forced to take one step back and refer to the operation in its official communiques as an attack by "more than 20 joint brigades" of Mojahedin and Iraqi forces.
In the next step, the regime claimed only "Iraqi artillery support for the blind-hearted Monafeqin."(1) This soon became untenable, because it is not possible to provide any form of artillery support at a distance of 100 to 150 kilometers. The regime's officials and press retreated again: "It seems that Iraqi infantry forces initially came with [the Mojahedin] but later returned to their own positions."(2) Finally, Iraq's role in the "Iraqi attack" paled, and the regime's officials specified that the forces of the National Liberation Army and the Mojahedin "had been organized into 30 brigades."(3) The mullahs' spokesmen openly declared that the regime was "concerned" about the Mojahedin, who are much more dangerous and "worse than [Iraqi Presidenti. Saddam."(4)
In the final version, Khomeini' s analysts stressed that the Mojahedin wanted to do what Iraq "could not achieve in several years of aggression against Iran, even more... [they wantedi to conquer Tehran."(5) One and a half years after the first National Liberation Army operation and several public flip flops in reaction to the major Eternal Light setback, the Khomeini regime was finally forced to admit what it had tried its utmost to ignore and never mention.
We are confronted with a similar metamorphosis regarding the martyrs of the National Liberation Army. The Khomeini regime initially claimed to have wiped out the Mojahedin and the National Liberation Army. Subsequently, it spoke of the destruction of 75% of their forces. In the next step, the Deputy for Operations and Intelligence to the High Command of the Armed Forces reduced the figure, claiming that of a total of 7,000 NLA forces, they had eliminated "4,800 in 48 hours," i.e. 70%.(6) Next, Khomeini's Chief Justice, Moussavi-Ardebili, said they had destroyed 20% of the NLA forces. Finally, on August 8, the commander of the 4th Bessat corps announced a total of 1,734 Mojahedin dead.(7) Consequently, the regime's Minister warned in a lengthy discussion at Khomeini s Security Council that the danger remains and the incident is "not over": "We do not consider the Monafeqin problem as over, because many of their agents... managed to escape." Later, Mullah Ansari, head of Khomeini's politico-cultural office, pointed out, "For ten years, [the Mojahedin] pierced our hearts... Tomorrow, they will invade our homes and destroy them on top of us. .." (Tehran radio, August 7)
As for popular support for the National Liberation Army and the Mojahedin, the same trend was repeated. The Khomeini regime initially claimed that the "people" and the "tribesmen" arose and fought against the NLA. In the next step, the names of 12 Guards Corps and Army divisions dispatched from various parts of Iran to counter the NLA were announced. Ultimately, the conscription and forcible dispatch of another 130,000 agents were disclosed. Gradually, claims about "the people" fighting the Mojahedin vanished and the Khomeini regime resorted to extensive arrests, executions, and public hangings in open retaliation against the populace. The commanders of the Guards Corps recounted their ordeal at Kerend and Islamabad, admitting that "the Mojahedin were in the people's houses and therefore, the brothers... were forced to evacuate the city." (Kayhan-e Hava'i, August 10)
The enemy also resorted to atrocities against the residents of Kerend. Many were flogged or expelled from the town. The regime confiscated their property and sent a number before firing squads. Two young men, Farhad Hamedani and Jahangir Yadegari, were among those executed on the charge of collaborating with the National Liberation Army.
In truth, the regime, more than anyone else, was aware of the popular support for the NLA combatants in all the towns and villages through which they advanced. Otherwise, the mullahs would not have taken such violent revenge on the residents of Islamabad, Kerend, and Kermanshah's villages, who had buried the bodies of the Mojahedin martyrs with honor. They would not have resorted to repression and threats against secret funeral services for the NLA martyrs. We shall never forget that from the regime's point of view one of the "crimes of the people of Kermanshah was singing a folk song in memory of a courageous Mojahed woman called Maryam. The people sung of her heroic fight against Khomeini's Guards. This unforgettable heroine was an NLA combatant whose corpse had been hanged from her feet in Kermanshah. The local people said she had told them only that her name was Maryam before being executed.
1 - All of the regimes newspapers including Ressal July 30 1988.
2 - In an August 8 interview with Tehran radio the commander of Khomeinis Army Air Corps Brigadier General Mohammad Ansari said: `In the few days of the openition we flew as many sorties as we normally did in two years.'