Iranians bid farewell to unidentified martyrs of war
Tens of thousands of Iranians attended a funeral ceremony and procession held in capital Tehran for 118 unidentified martyrs from Iraq’s Western-backed war of 1980-88 against the Islamic Republic.
In addition, 17 identified martyrs were also paid respect to during the memorial event held over Wednesday and Thursday. Ranking government and military officials, including the Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Mohammad Ali Jafari, as well as survivors of servicemen martyred in the war joined the event.
The martyrs’ caskets, which were draped in Iran’s flag, were driven through central Tehran during the procession, while people thronged around them to mourn and salute.
“I always visit caskets of unknown soldiers wondering if one of them could be my father who never came back home,” said Zahra Bagheri, a mother of two, AP reported. “I was only eight years old then. I hope someday I can point to one of the caskets and tell my children ‘he is your grandpa!’” she added.
“This is a chance for me to feel that I am still in the same trench with my comrades,” said 63-year-old war veteran Ahad Ebrahimi.
University student Abbas Mozaffari said he had attended the ceremony to “show that Iranians remember their heroes. Like them, we will sacrifice ourselves for our nation if an enemy tries to put his foot on our soil.”
“Enemies should know it. They thought after the war [between Iran and Iraq] new generations would not follow these issues and would be afraid, but our martyrs proved that we inherited their bravery and after that if they want to say nonsense words, we will answer them with a strong punch,” said resident Amir Aminsorour.
The remains belong to soldiers martyred in three operations launched between 1984 and 1986. The operations were parts of a multiple-phased campaign to cut off Iraq’s access to the Persian Gulf and take over the strategic city of al-Faw in the Basra Province in southern Iraq.
The war saw former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein launch a military invasion of Iran in 1980 while being heavily supported by major Western and regional states. The war started less than two years after the victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.
Back at the time, a large number of volunteers joined the Iranian armed forces to defend their country against the Iraqi aggressor under the leadership of the late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini.
Up to 160,000 are estimated to have been martyred during the war, while more than 60,000 others were missed in action.
Over the years that have followed the war, the Islamic Republic has been carrying out constant search operations to recover the bodies of the martyrs and the missing. The operations mostly span the country’s southern and western areas, which border Iraq, as well as inside the Iraqi soil. According to Tasnim News Agency, so far the bodies of 45,000 martyrs have been recovered.