Iran Mourns Death of President Raisi and Foreign Minister in Helicopter Crash

Associated Press - May 20, 2024 9:39 am

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday after an hours long search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media reported. Raisi was 63. (Iranian Presidency Office-via AP)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash after an hours long search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media reported. Raisi was 63.

Here’s what to know

  • Cause of crash: State TV gave no immediate cause for the crash in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.
  • Mohammad Mokhber: Iran’s first vice president is set to serve as the country’s acting president until elections are held.
  • International reaction: Countries including Russia, Iraq and Qatar have made formal statements of concern about Raisi’s fate.
The death of top Iranian officials could reverberate across the Middle East.

Iran has spent decades supporting armed groups and militants in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Palestinian territories, allowing it to project power and potentially deter attacks from the United States or Israel, the sworn enemies of its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Tensions have never been higher than they were last month, when Iran under Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launched hundreds of drones and ballistic missiles at Israel in response to an airstrike on an Iranian Consulate in Syria that killed two Iranian generals and five officers.

Israel, with the help of the United States, Britain, Jordan and others, intercepted nearly all the projectiles. In response, Israel apparently launched its own strike against an air defense radar system in the Iranian city of Isfahan, causing no casualties but sending an unmistakable message.

The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has drawn in other Iranian allies, with each attack and counterattack threatening to set off a wider war.

It’s a combustible mix that could be ignited by unexpected events, such as Sunday’s deadly crash.

▶ Read more about how the helicopter crash could stir up tensions across the middle east.

 

 

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