Friday, June 30, 2006

Baseej Armed with Heavy Weapons

Esfandiar Saffari, Rooz Online:
With growing unrest in some parts of Iran, a decision has been made to equip and arm 2 brigades of Baseej mass-mobilization forces with heavy weapons. These two brigades had been involved in crushing the student protests (who disguised themselves as plain-clothes men).

Ever since the heightening of the nuclear crises and with the growing unrest in the provinces and people’s revolts, the Ashoora and Al-Zahra brigades have been set for this armament. Last year, the Majlis (Iran's Parliament) allocated some $350 million from the nation’s foreign exchange reserves strengthening these two elite brigades. The brigades had been trained for urban warfare .

At that time General Mohammad Haj Agha-Mir the commander for the mobilization of Greater Tehran had said, “With the funds that have been allocated for equipping the brigades, the task will be accomplished by the end of 1384 (March 2006). The commander said that the Ashoora and Al-Zahra brigades each comprised of 120 operational units. Later with the threat of foreign intervention, Passdaran Revolutionary Guards decided to relegate the mission of fighting urban unrest to these two brigades. Each unit of the brigades is made up of 22 fighters who are equipped with communication and combat gear. They are considered the resistance cells against foreign intervention. In recent months, some military commanders have been refereeing to this as the “unconventional defense doctrine.”

At the moment the duty of the brigades remains combating urban unrest. During the demonstrations and disturbances during the last 2 months in the northern cities and provinces of Iran, these two brigades played a key role in suppressing the unrest.

The commander of the Baseej force Hejazi said to members of these two brigades that they constituted the leadership in defense and neutralizing danger. “Without the Baseej and its morale, the revolution would have vanished from the scene,” he said adding that their presence has led to the continued presence of the spirit of resistance, self-sacrifice and justice in the country.” READ MORE

Recent news reports indicate greater activity of these brigades. For example, a large camp including the Ashoora brigades will be held in Easter Azarbaijan province under the name of Fatemiyun Camp. 39 units are reported to be participating in the gathering. According to news reports, these brigades are strengthening themselves in other towns as well, which includes combat arms.

But the most disturbing news is that Ashoora and Al-Zahra brigades are said to be forming at the universities as well. Student Baseej is reported to have been given this task to organize itself as soon as possible. This goal has been identified to be this year’s key target.