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The President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, was found dead at the site of the helicopter crash.

Along with Ebrahim were the Foreign Minister and other Iranian government officials.

Ebrahim Raisi , Iranian president, along with the country’s foreign minister and several other government officials were found dead this Monday (20/05), hours after their helicopter crashed in a mountainous and foggy region in the northwest of the country . This is what state media reported.

The crash came as the Middle East remains roiled by the Israel-Hamas war, during which the 63-year-old Raisi, under the command of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, launched an unprecedented drone and missile attack against Israel last month .

Khamenei announced on Monday that Iran’s first vice-president, Mohammad Mokhber, would serve as the country’s interim president until elections are held.

During Ebrahim Raisi’s proxy , Iran enriched uranium closer to weapons-grade levels than ever before, further raising tensions with the West , as Tehran also supplied bomb-carrying drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine and the armed militia groups throughout the region.

Meanwhile, Iran has faced years of massive protests against its Shiite theocracy over its struggling economy and women’s rights – making the moment much more sensitive for Tehran and the country’s horizon .

Among those killed was 60-year-old Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. The helicopter was also carrying the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, a senior cleric from Tabriz, three crew members and a Revolutionary Guard officer , state news outlet IRNA reported.

IRNA said the crash killed eight people in total, including three crew members, aboard the Bell helicopter, which Iran purchased in the early 2000s.

Aircraft in Iran face a shortage of parts, often flying without safety checks in the context of Western sanctions. Justifying this, Iran’s former Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, sought to blame the United States for the accident in an interview .

“One of the main culprits of yesterday’s tragedy is the United States, which… has embargoed the sale of aircraft and aviation parts to Iran and does not allow the people to enjoy good aviation facilities,” Zarif said. “These will be recorded on the US list of crimes against the Iranian people.”

The United States has not commented on the death of Ebrahim Raisi.

The US has not yet publicly commented on the death of Ebrahim Raisi. Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s nuclear negotiator, will serve as the country’s acting foreign minister, state TV reported.

On Monday morning, Turkish authorities released what they described as drone footage showing what appeared to be a fire in the desert, which they “suspected to be helicopter wreckage.” Coordinates listed in the footage place the fire about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the border between Azerbaijan and Iran, on the side of a steep mountain range .

Images released by IRNA showed what the agency described as the site of the accident, across a steep valley in a green mountain range . Soldiers speaking the local Azerbaijani language said: “There it is, we found it.”

Condolences began pouring in from neighbors and allies after Iran confirmed there were no survivors of the crash . Pakistan announced a day of mourning and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a publication on X that his country “stands alongside Iran in this moment of sadness”. The leaders of Egypt and Jordan also offered condolences , as did Syrian President Bashar Assad. Lebanon and Syria declared three days of mourning.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said he and his government were “deeply shocked” – Raisi was returning on Sunday after traveling to Iran’s border with Azerbaijan to inaugurate a dam with Aliyev when the accident happened.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chinese President Xi Jinping conveyed their condolences.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a broadcast released by the Kremlin, described Raisi “as a true colleague of Russia”.

Khamenei, who asked the public to pray on Sunday night, stressed that the Iranian government’s business would continue regardless of what happened.

According to the Iranian constitution, Iran’s first vice president assumes power if the president dies, with Khamenei’s consent, and a new presidential election would be called within 50 days. Khamenei’s message of condolence on Raisi’s death declared five days of public mourning and acknowledged that Mokhber had assumed the role of interim president.

Mokhber had already started receiving calls from foreign authorities and governments in Raisi’s absence , state media reported.

An emergency meeting of Iran’s Cabinet was held while state media made the proclamation . The Cabinet later issued a statement promising that it would follow Raisi’s path and that “with the help of God and the people, there will be no problems with the management of the country”.

A hard -liner who previously led the country’s judiciary, Raisi was seen as a protégé of Khamenei and some analysts have suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader following Khamenei’s death or repudiation .

With Raisi’s death, the only other person so far suggested was Mojtaba Khameini, the supreme leader’s 55-year-old offspring . However, some have raised concerns about the position being assumed exclusively for the third time since 1979 by a family member, particularly after the Islamic Revolution overthrew the shah’s hereditary Pahlavi kingdom .

Raisi won Iran’s 2021 presidential election, a vote that saw the lowest turnout in the history of the Islamic Republic. Raisi is sanctioned by the US in section due to his involvement in the massive taking of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, at the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

Under Raisi, Iran now enriches uranium to near weapons-grade levels and hampers international inspections. Iran armed Russia in its war against Ukraine, as well as launching a massive drone and missile attack against Israel in the midst of its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip . It also continued to arm proxy groups in the Middle East, such as Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, massive protests across the country have lasted for years. The most recent involved the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who had previously been detained for allegedly not wearing a hijab, or headscarf, to authorities’ notice . The months-long security crackdown that followed the demonstrations killed more than 500 people and resulted in the detention of more than 22,000 people .

In March, a United Nations investigative panel concluded that Iran was responsible for the “physical violence” that led to Amini’s death.

Raisi is the second Iranian president to die in office . In 1981, a firecracker explosion killed President Mohammad Ali Rajai in the chaotic days following the country’s Islamic Revolution.

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