Iran's Revolt Within

August 29, 1986

Report Outline
War-Torn Iran Facing Test
The Western View of Iran
Love-Hate Relation with West

War-Torn Iran Facing Test

By some estimates, 665,000 Iranians have been killed or wounded in a war with Iraq that enters its seventh year Sept. 22. Not only is this an enormous amount of bloodshed in terms of Iran's population—the equivalent casualties for a country the size of the United States would be 3.7 million—but among the maimed and dead are “volunteers” aged 12 to 17, recruited by Iran's clergy and sent weaponless against Iraqi armor. Often these youths were bound together by ropes in groups of 20 to prevent the fainthearted from deserting as one after another they were blown into the air by land mines. As reported by one of the few Western correspondents to reach the battle front, they wore blood-red headbands and carried a small metal key to paradise, and sometimes on the back of their khaki shirts was stenciled: “I have the special permission of the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] to enter heaven.”

Khomeini earlier this year ordered a general mobilization, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers are being recruited for a major offensive in the war expected this autumn. The recruitment of young boys has abated, but hum an-wave tactics may again produce slaughters of Iranians by superior Iraqi firepower, Iran has a population of 45 million compared with Iraq's 15 million, but Iraq is aided by the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and can afford a superior arsenal.

Iran may be in the process of strengthening its hand. The Washington Post reported Aug. 26 that during the past six months China has sent Iran at least $300 million worth of missiles and other weaponry, including heavy tanks, rocket launchers and MiG aircraft. The newspaper, citing unidentified U.S. officials, said the shipments have continued despite American government protests and official Chinese denials of delivering arms. China, according to the same information, has replaced North Korea as Iran's biggest arms supplier. Some weapons come from the Soviet-bloc countries of Eastern Europe but not from Russia, it was reported.

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