Athens — In their six-month struggle to bring down Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic leftist Mujahideen-e Khalq guerrillas in Iran have suffered heavy casualties.
The toll is put at more than 3,000 executed, hundreds more killed in street battles with Revolutionary Guards, and several thousands imprisoned.
But Mujahideen guerrilla chief Massoud Rajavi dismisses all this as ''the price one must pay to win freedom.''
In a telephone interview with The Christian Science Monitor from his home in a Paris suburb, Rajavi said the present lull in incidents between the guerrillas and the guards was simply a passing phase.
He likened it to a boxing match. ''It is not necessary that one should hit all the time. Sometimes you want to feel out the enemy. Sometimes you want to recoup your strength.''
The regime's propaganda that the Mujahideen-e Khalq were ''finished and gone'' was little more than a ''joke,'' and reminded him of the repeated announcements by the Shah's secret police, Savak, that the mujahideen had been ''wiped out'' after a few executions in 1973. ''Dictators come and go, but we remain and are standing firm.We are growing stronger every day. For every mujahid who falls there are, without exaggeration, ten others to take his place.''
But he put on record some grim details of the struggle. The ''real figures of the executions are much higher'' than those announced by the regime. In addition to the 3,000 mujahideen shot by firing squad, he claims that more than 500 other leftists have been executed. He also charges that hundreds have been shot secretly.
In one incident alone, he said, ''We have information that 150 mujahideen were secretly executed. They were taken from Evin Prison to an unknown spot and martyred there. One of the secret graveyards is situated near Miskerabad, close to Khorrasan Square.'' This was an old cemetary south of the Iranian capital.
A large number of the mujahideen and their supporters have died under torture. This makes it necessary for Khomeini's officials to bury the victims secretly.
The guerrilla chief said a doctor, whom he identified only as Vosughpur, has been assigned to Evin Prison ''so that the corpses don't have to be sent to the mortuary. Rather, he issues the death certificates on the spot. In this way they have a free hand, both in keeping the tortures secret and in avoiding any problems if they wish to keep secret the names of some of those executed.''
Rajavi said he was ''continuously getting the names of those who have been executed without their names being announced.'' He listed numerous names.
Several of those executed were pregnant women. Rajavi cited several names. Among them was Zohreh Mohammadzadeh in Mashad.''Her only crime was that she gave refuge to my parents, aged 86 and 75. . . . These are just the names I know of. There are many more.''
The repression has become so severe that it extends even to high schools, he said. ''During the last few days I heard that in some schools when one wants to go to the toilet, they send someone with him, so that slogans are not written on the walls. In spite of this, many of the schools are full of slogans. . . . I saw a report today that in one girls' school they have appointed seven people to search for militants and mujahideen.''
As each girl enters the school the team of seven makes a personal search. ''One, for example, searches her headscarf, another her socks, another her schoolbag, another flips through the leaves of her books, another searches her clothes, and so on.''
Without terror and repression Khomeini ''cannot rule for even one day. Do you know of any other place where they execute school-children?''
Khomeini, of course, has good reason to be afraid of schoolgirls who belong to the Mujahideen-e Khalq. One report this correspondent received from sources in Tehran was that the assassination of Ayatollah Abdol Hossen Pastgheib in Shiraz on Dec. 11 was carried out by a schoolgirl aged 15 or 16. She got past the ayatollah's bodyguard by saying she had a petition for him. When she got near him, she detonated a powerful bomb strapped to her body, blowing both herself and Pastgheib to pieces.
Pastgheib was Khomeini's representative in Shiraz and one of the provincial pillars of the regime.
Another such pillar tumbled in Tabriz in September when Ayatollah Assadollah Madani was assassinated in a remarkably similar kamikaze (suicide) incident.
In general, Rajavi said, the guerrillas are currently concentrating on eliminating ''the lower level officials responsible for torture and the executions. . . . Although when we find a chance we get someone like Pastgheib as well.''
Nevertheless, reports of the arrest of Mujahideen-e Khalq members and supporters, sometimes by the score, continue to come in. The regime seems to have developed an uncanny ability to smell out their hideaways dotting the towns and cities. Latest reports say that thousands of the mujahideen have been leaving the insecurity of their urban hideouts and moving to the forests of northern Iran.