Iranian President, Foreign Minister Killed in Helicopter Crash

The U.S. Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller issued condolences on May 20 to the death of the Iranian president, foreign minister, and the six others killed in a plane crash. Mr. Miller also brought up the human rights abuses that were committed under the Iranian president's watch.

Iranian state media reported on Monday that President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister, and several other officials have died in a helicopter crash in the country’s northwest. Iran’s supreme leader has also confirmed their deaths.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power in Iran, said on the social media platform X that he had received “the bitter news of the martyrdom” of Mr. Raisi and his entourage.

“This bitter tragedy took place while he was serving the people,” he said.

Mr. Raisi was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the province’s governor, and other officials when the crash happened on Sunday.

A search and rescue operation was immediately launched in the area of the crash site. Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency later reported that all passengers aboard the helicopter had been “martyred.”

The state-run IRNA news agency also posted a similar statement on X, declaring that Mr. Raisi and his entourage died in the crash. It remains unclear what caused the crash.

Footage released by IRNA showed what the agency described as “the transfer of the bodies of the martyrs by the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and army rangers.”

IRCS Chief Pir Hossein Kolivand said on X that there were “no indications” of survivors.

Before his statement, IRCS said they were “unable to find anything” at the “three possible locations where President Raisi’s helicopter made a hard landing.”

Mr. Khamenei had previously called on the people of Iran to remain calm and said the incident would not cause any disruption to administrative affairs.

“The nation doesn’t need to be worried or anxious as the administration of the country will not be disrupted at all,” he said in a statement on X.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group offered condolences for Mr. Raisi’s death, saying they have lost “a great hope for all the oppressed people.”

Turkey, EU Help

Some countries also expressed concerns and offered to help with the search operation. The Turkish Defense Ministry earlier announced the deployment of a drone and a helicopter with night vision to assist in the search.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was “deeply saddened” by the helicopter crash and said that his government was “in full contact and coordination” with the Iranian authorities.

NTD Photo
A mobile phone screen shows the crash site of the helicopter that carried Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, on May 20, 2024. (Pool via WANA via Reuters/Screenshot via NTD)

The European commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, said the commission had activated its Copernicus mapping service to locate the crashed helicopter at the request of Iran’s government.

The White House said President Joe Biden had been briefed on reports about the crash. A United Nations spokesperson said that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was following reports of the crash “with concern.”

China’s Foreign Ministry also expressed its “deep concern over the hard landing of the helicopter carrying President Raisi.”

Mr. Raisi, 63, was a hardline and conservative cleric who was elected president in August 2021, with the lowest electoral turnout. Many Iranian dissidents referred to him as “the Butcher of Tehran” for his role in the four-man “death committee” that ordered the mass executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, according to Human Rights Watch.

Under his leadership, Iran had widespread protests, particularly in 2022, when Iran launched a crackdown on protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was killed while in police custody for not wearing a hijab or headscarf.

Mr. Raisi was sanctioned by the United States for his role in the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on the “Green Movement” protests, which erupted after the regime decided to raise fuel prices in 2019.

Military tensions have escalated between Iran and Israel in recent months due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and Iran’s support for the Houthi terrorists in Yemen, which have been targeting ships with ties to Israel in the Red Sea.

From The Epoch Times

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