Iran in Syria: Death buys chocolate

Hezbollah convoy in Syria

Hezbollah convoy in Syria

Dutch TV reporter Roozbeh Kaboly and the Nieuwsuur team have put together this report, with English subtitles, based on a video said to show Iranian troops training militia in Syria, using a village school as a base.  The man being interviewed has been identified as Revolutionary Guards Commander Esmail Heydari, who reportedly died in Syria a few weeks ago, and was later given a public funeral in his hometown of Amol, about 180km north of Iran’s capital, Tehran. He describes the mission, working with teams which are on 25-day rotation, adding that some were previously trained in Iran. Part of the mission’s objective appears to be securing access for Hezbollah to deliver weapons and supplies.

Esmail Heydari| Photo:

Esmail Heydari| Photo:

Followers of human rights abuses in Iran, used to reading about the indescribable torture and cruelty dispensed to prisoners in the “special” IRGC detention centres and isolation wards, may be surprised by the smiling, relaxed, countenance of this commander. Heydari reveals the secret of his team’s success on their training mission is that they treat fighters with respect, “We haven’t paid them or anything,” he comments. Respect is a sentiment Heydari claims to extend to the local people: for example, by driving military vehicles slowly in civilian areas to avoid raising dust. While driving through a village Heydari says was deserted until his unit came to the area and cleaned up, he greets children warmly, offering candy. “When we came, there was no human being,” says Heydari. One of his team responds, “There are still no humans now, just Arabs.” The Nieuwsuur translation then relates the cameraman suggesting the Iranians also offer candy to the women they are passing on the road, but misses what I consider to be an implied threat in the reply: “We’ll give them some(thing), and you can film.” This is more typical of the IRGC behaviour I am familiar with.

The regime in Iran celebrated his death by burying Commander Heydari with honor, as a martyr who died defending the Shrine of Syeda Zainab, granddaughter of the prophet Mohammed.

At least 6 more videos were posted to YouTube by the admin of a rebel group’s Facebook page, and were later verified by France24 journalists working with translators, who helped to produce a detailed analysis. The links to the original videos were shared on Twitter, but were either shared only with selected contacts, or the settings were later changed to prevent public access. Copies of the videos, which seem to show Iranian military officers working with soldiers from Syria’s regular army, giving them advice and instructions for combat, can be seen here.

The film appears to have been recorded by Hadi Baghbani, a young Iranian documentary maker, who reportedly died during an incident on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, where he is said to have been on a 10-day assignment, his second such visit. A second group of Iranians reportedly died while on the road in Syria, either because of a traffic accident or because their driver was killed by a sniper. The rebels believed to have found Baghbani’s video camera, the Idblib-based Dawood Brigade, which released the video, claimed responsibility for “most” of the deaths in an interview with al-Aan TV. The group’s spokesperson, Hosam Alsermene, told Al-Jazeera that they killed about 15-20 members of an Iranian team after hearing about their Syrian operations. Their identities and operational details were confirmed after taking possession of mobile phones and the video camera of an independent journalist who just happened to be there. The 30-year-old filmmaker received a burial ceremony in his hometown of Babolsar, Iran.

Hadi Baghbani

Hadi Baghbani

It’s not completely clear, from the available accounts, how the bodies were returned to Iran. Can we assume that this happened with the help of Syrian authorities or the militia which were being trained? Alternatively, other Iranians still present in Syria might have been able to repatriate the dead themselves.

Defending the Shrine of Syeda Zainab

In July 2012, it was reported that about 5,000 Shiite Muslims were living in the neighbourhood of the shrine, including some who fled there to seek refuge from sectarian violence. Local youths armed with sticks were said to be defending the site, with Iran alleging clerics in Saudi Arabia had issued a fatwa demanding its destruction. A group of 48 Iranians, including members of the IRGC who claimed they were in retirement and making a pilgrimage to the shrine, was taken hostage in August 2012, before being traded in exchange for 2,130 prisoners of the Syrian regime in January 2013. Abdel Nasser Shmeir, interviewed by Al Arabiya and presented as the commander of Al-Baraa Brigade, claimed the hostages, plus their Afghan interpreter, were members of a 150-strong group sent to Syria by Iran for reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering. Shia news organisations claim that the shrine is now being protected by hundreds of Shia militants from Iraq and the Lebanese Hezbollah group. Recent reports say a custodian of the site, Anas Romani, was killed, and the building damaged, when it was attacked by mortar shells in July 2013.  The Syrian government accused militants of the attacks.


Des Nouvelles d’Iran – Semaine 04-2012


Ebrahim Yazdi, Sharif University

Image via Wikipedia

Nouvelles des Prisonniers



  • Le journaliste emprisonné  Massoud Bastani transféré à l’hôpital Sina.
  • Le militant étudiant Mohammad Reza Karbalaï Aghamalekitransféré à l’isolement à la prison Mati Kala de Babol.
  • Le blogger et militant des droits humains Hossein Ronaghi Maleki retourne à Evine après son opération à l’hôpital.
  • Abdollah Momeni dans un état critique après son transfert au dispensaire d’Evine.

B- Arrestations/Incarcérations


  • Mohammad Ahadi violemment arrêté à Myaneh.
  • Issa Bararkhani, militant civique, arrêté à Babolsar.
  • Mobine Djafari, militant civique, arrêté à Babolsar.
  • Ghaleb Manabi, célèbre chanteur d’Ahvaz, arrêté en compagnie de son frère Hassan.
  • Shahram Manoutcheri, militant des médias arrêté.
  • Ebrahim Rashidi arrêté lors de l’attaque du domicile d’Afshine Shahbazi.
  • Le journaliste Saïd Razavi Faghih arrêté à son retour à l’aéroport et transféré à Evine.
  • Rouzbeh Saadati violemment arrêté à Myaneh.
  • Afshin Shafeï, étudiant à Leicester, arrêté.
  • Le militant étudiant de l’université de Tabriz Afshine Shahbaziarrêté lors de l’attaque de son domicile.
  • Le militant de la campagne de Moussavi Yasser Youssefzadehviolemment arrêté lors de l’attaque de son domicile à Babolsar.
  • Le militant Younes Zareon arrêté lors de l’attaque de son domicile à Tabriz.



  • Au bout d’un mois de grève de la faim, Mehdi Sadat Sharif est enfin libéré.

D-Autres Nouvelles 


  • Hossein Ronaghi Maleki opéré pour la 5ème fois cette année à l’hôpital Hasheminejad.
  • 133 intellectuels et professeurs d’université du monde entier écrivent à Khamenei pour lui demander la libération d’Ebrahim Yazdi.
  • Pas de gasoil pour le chauffage à la prison d’Evine.

Nouvelles de l’injustice en Iran


  • Assal Esmaïlzadeh voit sa peine augmentée de 74 coups de fouet.
  • Milad Karimi, militant étudiant kurde, condamné à 6 mois de prison.
  • Sepehr Sobhani condamné à un an de prison.
  • 372 mises en examen à Malayer pour possession d’une antenne satellite ; la justice tente d’interdire l’utilisation d’Internet.
  • Un pilote secrètement pendu à Shiraz.
  • Un homme de 85 ans condamné à mort.

L’université  – La culture


  • La Syrie aide à brouiller les satellites en Iran.
  • Deux nominations aux Oscars pour “Une Séparation” de Farhadi : meilleur scénario original et meilleur film étranger.
  • Un scientifique iranien gagne le prix mondial pour la meilleure recherche sur le cancer.
  • ESLAH site Sunnite affilié aux Réformistes, bloqué par le gouvernement.
  • La chaîne cinématographique en Persan, Nomayesh officiellement lancée le 24 janvier.
  • Le journal étudiant, Yare Dabestani interdit à l’université d’agriculture de Gorgan.

L’économie de l’Iran


  • La possession de dollars considérée comme du trafic ; tous ceux qui en ont en leur possession ont deux semaines pour les vendre à la banque centrale.
  • Quiconque rentrera en Iran avec plus de $1.000, devra les déclarer à la douane.
  • Taux de change le 21 janvier 1 US Dollar: 1900 Toman — 1 Euro: 2500 Toman – 1 £ : 3000 Toman – le 22 janvier : 1 US Dollar: 2060 Toman – Le 25 janvier : 1 $ : 2200 Toman — 1 Euro: 2700 Toman –  1 £ : 3400 Toman –  le 24 janvier : 1$ = 2300 toman – Le 26 janvier : 1 $ : 1730 Toman — 1 Euro: 2350 Toman – 1 £: 2970 Toman
  • 30% d’augmentation en 2011 dans les importations de pétrole d’Iran pour la Chine par rapport à l’année 2010.
  • Une raffinerie iranienne ferme.
  • Les pièces d’or ont augmenté de 135% en 10 mois.
  • L’Iran possède des milliards d’euros déposés dans les banques européennes.
  • La Chine, l’Inde et l’Afrique du Sud demandent à l’Iran de produire davantage de pétrole.
  • Le ministre de l’énergie demande une augmentation de 20% des prix de l’eau à compter du nouvel an iranien.
  • Seulement  18% du pétrole iranien est venu à l’union européenne; 65% est vendu à la Chine, à l’Inde, au Japon, à la Corée du Sud et à la Turquie.
  • L’Iran augmente les taux d’intérêt pour tenter de soutenir le rial.
  • 35% d’augmentation des prix alimentaires dans les 12 mois se terminant en novembre dernier.Le prix des denrées alimentaires importées a augmenté de 50% en un mois.
  • Les importateurs de LG et Samsung restent fermés ; ils ne réalisent presque plus de vente.
  • L’Inde paiera une importante partie de ses importations de pétrole iranien en troquant.
  • Le 22 janvier, un litre de lait valait 1050 tomans et 1200 toman le lendemain.

Les Manifestations


  • Environ 50 producteurs d’engrais agricoles manifestent devant le parlement pour protester contre la fermeture de leurs usines en raison du manqué de soutien du gouvernement.

L’Iran à l’étranger


  • Le premier ministre irakien Maleki annonce le 17 janvier que 120 mandats d’arrêts ont été émis pour les membres de l’OMPI.
  • Les Iraniens ne pourront plus acquérir la nationalité canadienne en investissant.
  • Un groupe terroriste lié à l’Iran projetait d’assassiner des enseignants israéliens.
  • L’union européenne boycotte le pétrole iranien à partir du 1er juillet.
  • Les Etats-Unis sanctionnent la banque nationale Tedjarat et sa filiale, Trade Capital Bank.
  • L’Australie rejoint l’union européenne dans le boycott du pétrole iranien.
  • Le Brésil soutient une résolution de l’ONU visant à enquêter sur les violations des droits humains en Iran.L’Iran se classe 4ème en partant de la fin pour la liberté d’expression en 2011 (classement de RSF).
  • L’Iran prend la présidence tournante de la Conférence des Etats Unis pour le Commerce et le  Développement (UNCTAD) pour l’Asie.
  • Jumelage entre Ispahan et Kyoto.
  • Mohammad Ali Ghanezadeh Ezabadi (actuellement ambassadeur en Afrique du Sud) nommé ambassadeur au Brésil.
  • Un pavillon du tourisme en Iran présent à la 32ème foire internationale du tourisme de Madrid.
  • Un groupe d’étudiants iraniens manifestent devant l’union internationale des télécommunications  à Genève pour lui demander d’agir contre la politique du gouvernement iranien qui limite l’accès aux  médias.

 La politique en Iran


  • Une vague de critiques contre le guide suprême au sein des dirigeants des gardes révolutionnaires.
  • Quatre anciens commandants des gardes révolutionnaires meurent en l’espace de quatre jours.
  • L’ambassadeur du Danemark convoqué pour s’expliquer sur l’embargo pétrolier.
  • Rafsanjani envoie ses condoléances aux familles des deux commandants des gardes révolutionnaires récemment décédés alors que Khamenei reste silencieux.
  • Nader Ghazipour, député d’Oroumieh, qui avait manifesté contre la crise écologique de sa région, Abdoladjabbar Karami, député indépendant de Sanandadj, Abbas Aminifar, chapelain de Khamenei et Bahman Sharifzadeh,  religieux proche de Mashaï,ne peuvent se présenter aux élections de Mars.
  • Le ministre de l’économie convoqué devant le parlement pour s’expliquer sur la chute du rial par rapport au dollar.

Nouvelles en vrac


  • Attaque contre des militaires à Khorramabad, province du Lorestan ; 1 mort.
  • Décès de l’oncle de Mir-Hossein Moussavi, Mir-Abbas Moussavi.
  • L’imam du vendredi Sunnite de Rask, région du Sistan et Baloutchistan assassiné vendredi.
  • La ségrégation des sexes va atteindre l’hôpital.
  • Un bateau sombre au large de l’Iran, 17 morts et 5 personnes sauvées.
  • Un officier abattu par deux motocyclistes dans l’ouest de l’Iran.
  • Les journaux rapporte que les femmes travaillant dans les administrations de Téhéran ont commencé à porter l’uniforme.

News from Iran Week 04 – 2012


News of the Prisoners


  • Incarcerated journalist Masoud Bastani transferred to Sina hispotal.
  • Incarcerated student activist Mohammad Reza Karbalaei Aghamaleki has been moved to solitary in Babol prison.
  • Blogger/Human Rights activist Hossein Ronaghi Maleki has been returned to Evin from hospital.
  • Abdollah Momeni in critical condition after his transfer to Evin clinic.

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Mohammad Ahadi, civic activist, violently arrested in Babolsar.
  • Isa Bararkhani, civic activist, violently arrested in Babolsar.
  • Mobin Jafari, civic activist, arrested in Babolsar.
  • Ghaleb Manabi, prominent Arab singer arrested in Ahvaz together with his brother Hasan.
  • Shahram Manoucheri, media activist arrested.
  • Ebrahim Rashidi arrested during the raid against Afshin Shahbazi’s home.
  • Journalist Saïd Razavi Faghih arrested upon return at the airport and transferred to Evin.
  • Roozbeh Saadati civic activist, violently arrested in Myaneh.
  • Afshin Shafei, student in Leicester, arrested.
  • Tabriz University student activist Afshin Shahbazi was arrested in a raid of his home
  • Mousavi campaign activist Yaser Yousefzadeh arrested violently in a raid of his home in Babolsar.
  • Activist Yoones Zareon arrested during a raid against his home at Tabriz.


  • After one month on hunger strike, Mehdi Sadat Sharif at last released.
Ebrahim Yazdi, Sharif University

Ebrahim Yazdi - Image via Wikipedia

D-Other News

  • Hossein Ronaghi Maleki underwent surgery for the 5th time in this year at Hasheminejad hospital.
  • 133 world intellectuals and academics  addressed a letter to Khamenei, urging the freedom of  Ebrahim Yazdi.
  • No more fuel for heating Evin prison.

News of injustice in Iran

  • 74 lashes added to Asal Esmaelzadeh sentence.
  • Milad Karimi, Kurdish student activist, sentenced to 6 months in prison.
  • Sepehr Sobhani sentenced to 1 year in prison.
  • 372 are prosecuted in Malayer for operating satellite dish; Head of judiciary trying to ban internet use.
  • IRI has secretly hanged a pilot in Shiraz.
  • A 85 years old man sentenced to death.

University  – Culture

  • Iran getting help from Syria in jamming its programs.
  • Two Oscar nominations for Farhadi “A Separation” Farhadi : best  original screen play and best foreign film.
  • ESLAH Sunni news website, affiliated with the Reformists, was blocked by the government.
  • An Iranian scientist awarded world prize for best cancer research. Farsi language movie channel Nomayesh (Display) officially launched on January 24.
  • Student journal, Yare Dabestani at Gorgan Agriculture University has been banned.

Economy in Iran

  • Owning USD will be considered trafficking. Those holding USD have two weeks to sell it to Central Bank.
  • Those who travel to Iran with more than $1000, should declare their currency.
  • Exchange rate on Jan 21st for 1 US Dollar: 1900 Toman — for 1 Euro: 2500 Toman – for 1 pound: 3000 Toman – On Jan 22nd 1$: 2060 Toman – On Jan 25th : 1 $ : 2200 Toman — 1 Euro: 2700 Toman –  1 £ : 3400 Toman –  On Jan 24th : 1$ = 2300 toman – On Jan 26th : 1 $ : 1730 Toman — 1 Euro: 2350 Toman – 1 £: 2970 Toman
  • An Iranian refinery closes.
  • Gold coins increased 135% in 10 months.
  • Iran owns billions of euros in European banks.
  • China’s oil imports from Iran jumped by 30% in 2011 compared to 2010.
  • Price of gold coins has risen 135% over the past 10 months.
  • On Jan. 22nd, 1 liter of milk = 1050 toman – on Jan. 23rd = 1200 toman.
  • China, India and South Africa ask Iran to produce more oil.
  • Energy minister ask for 20% increase in water costs as from Iranian New Year.
  • Only 18% of Iranian oil is sold to European; 65% is sold to China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.
  • Iran increases interest rates to try and support rial.
  • Food products increase 35% in last 12 months ending in last November.
  • Price of imported food item up 50% since last month.
  • LG and Samsung offices remain closed; they sell almost nothing.
  • India will pay a great part of its Iranian oil imports through barter.


  • Nearly 50 producers of agricultural fertilizers gathered in front of the northern entrance to the parliament and protested the closure of their factories due to a lack of governmental support.

Iran  abroad

  • Iraqi PM Maleki announced 17 Jan  they have issued arrest warrants for 120 MKO members.
  • Iranians will no longer be able to get permanent residency in Canada through investment.
  • Iran-linked terror group plotted to kill Israeli teachers in Baku.
  • EU to boycott Iran oil starting July 1, 2012.
  • US imposes sanctions on Iranian state-owned bank Tejarat and affiliate bank, Trade Capital Bank.
  •  Iran became rotating head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for Asia.
  • Isfahan, Kyoto named sister cities.
  • Mohammad Ali Ghanezadeh Ezabadi (currently ambassador to South Africa) appointed Ambassador in Brazil.
  • Iran’s tourism pavilion was present at the 32nd International Tourism Fair in Madrid.
  • A group of Iranian students gathered in front of the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva to call for action against Iranian government policies that limit access to media.

Politics in Iran

  • Heads of IRGC become vocal in their critics against supreme leader.
  • Four former IRGC commanders die within four days.
  • Danish Ambassador summoned over oil boycott.
  • Rafsanjani sends his condolences to the families of two recently deceased IRGC commandants when Khamenei remains silent.
  • Nader Ghazipour, Majlis member from Oroumiyeh, who had protested the environmental crisis in his region, Abdolajabbar Karami, an independent representative for Sanandaj, Abbas Aminifar, chaplain of Khamenei and Bahman Sharifzadeh,  cleric close to Mashaei, are disqualified for March elections.
  • Minister of Economic Affairs summoned to Majlis to explain the continued collapse of Iranian currency against the US dollar.


  • Armed attack on military personnel in Khoramabad -Lorestan province; one killed.
  • Mousavi’s uncle Mir Abbas Mousavi has passed away.
  • The Sunni Friday Prayer Imam in Rask, Sistan & Baluchestan Province (SE IR) was assassinated on Friday.
  • Plan for Gender Separation in Iran’s Hospitals.
  • Passenger boat sinks off Iran, 17 casualties; Rescue teams saved 5 passengers.
  • Military officer shot dead in west Iran by two motorcyclists.
  • Newspapers report that women working in Tehran administrations begin wearing a uniform.