The Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has quoted Gen. GholamHossein Gheibparvar, Basij commander (volunteer arm of the IRGC), that the Fatehin (Conquerors) – Basij Special Forces –are prepared to “sacrifice themselves” in the face of “severe threats.” He added that the unit’s fighters had undergone hard training to enable them to help the country in “difficult times.” 
Fatehin Basij-affiliated Special Forces participated in the war in Syria and across Iran. In October 2017, IRGC held a commemoration ceremony in Tehran for members of the Fatehin killed in combat in Syria. One of them was General Abdollah Khosravi from Arak, who was the commander of the Fatehin battalion, and killed while defending the Hazrat-e Zeinab shrine, an important Shiite pilgrimage site in the southern suburbs of Damascus.
IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari praised the unit and promised to form these units across the country. He stated that he had given a report to Supreme Leader Khamenei regarding the expansion and deployment of IRGC Fatehin Special Forces to major Iranian cities to disperse riots quickly.
The Fatehin unit of Qom province held its first drill in September 2016 with the motto of “the path to Jerusalem goes through Karbala,” Ayatollah Khomeini’s famous quote during the Iran-Iraq war.
Gheibparvar also said he sent two letters to President Hassan Rouhani in which he stressed the need to increase the Basij Forces’ budget. He explained Iran’s economic difficulties negatively affected the preparedness of the forces under his command. He said the president has yet to respond to the letters.
The Basij commander continued, saying that the repressive measures his Special Forces – the Fatehin – employ against the Iranian people would intensify in light of the mounting popular unrest and numerous labor strikes as the economic crisis deepens. Some months ago, he revealed that Basij had already initiated patrols in urban neighborhoods.
Gheibparvar said that in the coming days the Basij forces would also be conducting patrols that would include 700,000 troops in the centers of the large cities. The aim would be to show force and determination in safeguarding the revolution in the face of internal and external threats. 
The patrols are part of country-wide drills, codenamed “Warriors of Mohammad Rasulullah-2” that include massive military exercises and social service programs, particularly in underprivileged areas. The exercises are being conducted under the slogan of “unity and advancement” and started on August 31, 2018. Its first stage will run until September 20, 2018.
The second phase will be held during the “Sacred Defense Week” (which commemorates Iran’s eight-year resistance during the Iran-Iraq war 1980-88) in late September 2018, with the 700,000 Basij scheduled to gather in provincial capitals, including 100,000 Basij in Tehran.
Internal and International Deterrence
The rare public exposure of Fatehin is part of the regime’s efforts to deter the population and prevent widespread protests that have become part of Iran’s landscape following the renewed sanctions this year.
The mentioning of the Fatehin unit’s capabilities is also part of the threats Iranian officials occasionally issue after the tightening of U.S. sanctions and Washington’s declared intention (beginning in November 2018) to “totally turn off the faucet of Iranian oil exports.” [On September 3, 2018, Japan announced it would reduce its oil imports from Iran considerably.] Iranian commanders, including Qasem Soleimani, head of the IRGC’s Qods Force, have been reiterating the threat to shut the Strait of Hormuz to all countries’ oil exports. Other spokesmen have emphasized the fact that it was Iran that instructed the Houthis in Yemen to fire at oil tankers near the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea.