Iran's Revolutionary Council decided tonight to turn over the bodies of eight U.S. servicemen to representatives of the pope and the Red Cross for repatriation to the families.
The decision, which appeared to end a quarrel between President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr and his Moslem clerical rivals over the issue, came as the militant students occupying the U.S. Embassy announced further transfers of their hostages to distant Iranian cities to thwart any future U.S. rescue attempt. If the students' statements are accurate, hostages are now being held in five cities besides the capital, Tehran.
In other developments, a wave of terrorist bombings in Tehran killed at least four persons, and intensified fighting was reported between government forces and Kurdish guerrillas in the western Kurdish region.
The Revolutionary Council's decision to allow the repatriation of the remains of the U.S. servicemen, who died during an aborted hostage rescue mission, followed a dispute within the Iranian leadership over using the badly burned corpses to extract concessions from the United States and to make propaganda.
Yesterday a top Moslem clergyman, Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, held a news conference at the occupied U.S. Embassy compound in which the Americans' remains were displayed as U.S. policies and President Carter were denounced. The bodies were later turned over to Revolutionary Guards and delivered to the Tehran morgue, where they were being kept today pending a government decision on what to do with them.
The Islamic Republican Party, led by Bani-Sadr's main clerical rival, Ayatollah Mohammed Beheshti, sprearheaded the opposition to the president's decision Saturday to allow the remains to be returned to the United States.
Beheshti was quoted in an interview today as saying, "Such important political decisions should be discussed in the Revolutionary Council, and it is the Revolutionary Council that should decide."
Beheshti's party newspaper suggested that the remains be held in Iran until Washington agrees to release Iranian assets frozen in the United States.
Tonight's Revolutionary Countil decision amounted to a compromise between Bani-Sadr and Beheshti, stipulating that the remains be returned to the servicemen's families through intermediaries other than the U.S. government. But the council reportedly admonished Beheshti for making his quarrel about the bodies public.
Bani-Sadr issued a statement tonight charging that the United States "does not attach any value to human beings" and saying that it was "not clear whether the U.S. government would give the bodies back to the families."
While the council said representatives of the Vatican would intercede, the president said he asked radical Greek Catholic Arch bishop Hilarion Capucci to "take responsibility for repatriation of the bodies." Bani-Sadr said that Capucci, who has visited Iran several times and supports the aims of the embassy militants, had accepted the Iranian request.
A spokesman for Bani-Sadr said the International Red Cross also would be involved in the repatriation and the remains would be returned "as soon as possible."
The bombings that killed four Iranians also wounded 28 and caused heavy damage at three downtown locations. The biggest explosion occurred at Imam Khomeini Square, formerly Sepah Square and now named for revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in southern Tehran shortly before 6 p.m. The bomb, apparently placed in a car, killed three passersby, injured eight others and wrecked cars in the vicinity.
A bomb exploded earlier at a movie theater, killing one person and injuring at least 20 others, Iranian news media reported. A third blast occurred in a pharmacy. Iranian news media said that two other bombs were discovered and defused elsewhere in the city.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosions, and Iranian authorities were reluctant to assign blame for them.
In other incidents, Iranian television reported today that Revolutionary Guards posted outside the U.S. Embassy had come under fire three times during the night from passing vehicles and had fired back.
In the latest communique, meanwhile, the militants occupying the U.S. Embassy said they had dispatched some of their 50 hostages to three more Iranian cities as part of their plan to scatter them across the country following the failed U.S. rescue bid.
The militants said an undisclosed number of hostages had been sent to the central Iranian city of Isfahan, the country's second largest; the town of Najafabad about 15 miles west of Isfahan; and the city of Yazd, about 110 miles south of the site of the desert accident in which the eight Americans died early Friday.
Yesterday the militants announced that some hostages were sent to the Shiite Moslem holy city of Qom, 90 miles south of Tehran, and to Tabriz in the northwestern corner of the country.
In Tabriz, members of the "Moslem Students Following the Line of the Iman," as the militants call themselves, said they had installed some of the U.S. Embassy hostages in the city's American consulate, which was vacated after the February 1979 revolution.
Referring to the hostage rescue attempt, the militants said in their first statement from the consulate, "If the thinking of the U.S. is repeated, the heroic resistance of the nation will, be an answer to the mongrel-like aggression of Carter."
The statement added: "We transferred some of the spies 48 hours ago under complete security to Tabriz . . . now that the administration building of the former U.S. consulate is completely given to us with the supervision of [Khomeini's] representative, Ayatollah Madani we transfer the spies to this place which is the branch of the U.S. nest of spies," as the militants refer to the U.S. Embassy.
While there was no firm evidence from independent sources that the hostages actually had been transferred, diplomats tended to place some credence in the militants' statements. One unconfirmed report cited by a European diplomat said that as few as two of the hostages may remain in the embassy.
Reports from the Kurdish region said that fighting in the provincial capital of Sanandaj was so heavy that it was impossible to remove the bodies of the dead from the city's streets. A Tehran newspaper said that the Army had retaken the radio and television station captured earlier by Kurdish insurgents, but that the governor general's office was still in rebel hands.
Other reports said that the Kurdish towns of Sardasht and Baneh had been badly damaged by Army artillery, mortar and rocket fire.