Iran Table of Contents
The first operations commander of the Pasdaran was Abbas Zamani (Abu Sharif), a former teacher from Tehran. A graduate of the College of Education (Islamic Law Section), Zamani was one of the founders of Hizballah in 1971. As early as 1970, when he first traveled to Beirut, he established contacts in Lebanon with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and various guerrilla groups there. Unverified reports have claimed that the Pasdaran has received organizational and training assistance from the PLO, but no Palestinians were known to have visited the Aliabad or other Pasdaran training grounds. Khomeini and his supporters in Iran, as well as many other Iranians, have continued to support the Palestinians, however. For example, PLO leader Yasir Arafat was one of the first world leaders to visit Tehran after the Revolution; he opened a diplomatic mission in what formerly had been the Israeli embassy.
The Pasdaran has been quite active in Lebanon. By the summer of 1982, shortly after the second Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Pasdaran had nearly 1,000 personnel deployed in the predominantly Shia Biqa Valley. From its headquarters near Baalbek, the Pasdaran has provided consistent support to Islamic Amal, a breakaway faction of the mainstream Amal organization that contemplated the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon. The secular Baathist Syrian regime has found the Pasdaran presence in Lebanon alternately helpful and threatening. In 1987 the Pasdaran's alleged involvement in anti-American terrorism in Lebanon remained difficult to confirm.
By September 1980, the Pasdaran was capable of deploying forces at the front. Initially, the forces were sent to conduct operations against Kurdish rebels, but before long they were deployed alongside regular armed forces units to conduct conventional military operations. Despite differences, the Pasdaran and the regular armed forces have cooperated on military matters.
The Pasdaran was also given the mandate of organizing a large people's militia, the Basij, in 1980. In a 1985 Iranian News Agency report, Hojjatoleslam Rahmani, head of the Basij forces of the Pasdaran, was quoted as stating that there were close to 3 million volunteers in the paramilitary force receiving training in some 11,000 centers. It is from Basij ranks that volunteers have been drawn to launch "human wave" attacks against the Iraqis, particularly around Basra. More recently, the Pasdaran, on Khomeini's instructions, has initiated the training of women to serve the Revolution.
Data as of December 1987