Iran’s president and foreign minister died at the helicopter crash site

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash in a mountainous region of the country.

Rescuers on Monday found the helicopter carrying the president and other officials, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, who also died, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. It crashed on Sunday near the village of Tavil in northwestern Iran.

Raisi was returning from an event on the border with Azerbaijan in a group of three helicopters when his plane crashed with nine people on board, all of whom died. The area has dense fog, making it difficult for rescue teams. The remaining two helicopters landed safely.

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said intelligence agencies have informed him that there is no evidence of foul play in the helicopter crash, NBC reported.

The president’s death comes at a time of turmoil in the Middle East as the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas rages. The conflict has pushed Iran, which backs the Islamist rebel group, and Israel closer to full-blown conflict and exposed other groups supported by Tehran, including the Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iraq. , attacked ships around the Red Sea. Sea and US bases.

In April, Iran launched an unprecedented barrage of missiles and drones at Israel, its arch-foe, although most of them were intercepted and caused little damage. Jewish State reacted with a limited attack on an air base in Iran.

Although tensions between the two countries have eased, tensions remain high with the Israeli military in the eighth month of its war to destroy Hamas – an organization designated as a terrorist organization by the US and European Union.

Raisi, a radical cleric in his 60s who won the 2021 presidential election, is considered the favorite to succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader and current leader. in their 80s.

He is likely to be succeeded by First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, who has represented Iran on many recent foreign trips and who like many senior Iranian officials is under sanctions of America. The election will likely be held within 50 days, according to the constitution.

Raisi’s death will not “seriously disrupt Iran’s internal stability, as the security forces, army and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps remain under the control” of the supreme leader, he said. Gregory Brew, an analyst at Eurasia, said in a note. The IRGC is a powerful military and business force and controls many of Iran’s relationships with proxy militias.

Both Raisi and Amirabdollahian oversaw the restoration of Iran’s diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia through a The deal was brokered by China in March 2023. But that was also the time when there was also a deadlock in negotiations to restore Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers including the US and lift Western economic sanctions.

Iranian television previously broadcast live footage of many ambulances amid heavy rain and fog. The Turkish Ministry of Defense said it dispatched a drone in response to Iran’s request to help locate and monitor the crash site. The EU has helped by activating its rapid response mapping service.

Raisi met his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev to inaugurate a jointly developed dam on the border between the two countries early Sunday morning.

The Iranian president is accused by human rights groups of being instrumental in the execution of thousands of dissidents in the late 1980s. In 2018, London-based Amnesty International said he had chaired a “death penalty commission” and called on the United Nations to investigate him for crimes against humanity.


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