Iranian President, Foreign Minister Killed in Helicopter Crash
Iranian President, Foreign Minister Killed in Helicopter Crash

By Aldgra Fredly

Iranian state media reported on May 20 that President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister, and several other Iranian officials died in a helicopter crash in the northwestern part of the country. Iran’s supreme leader has also confirmed the deaths.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power in Iran, said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, 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 May 19.

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 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 shows 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, the IRCS stated that 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 that it had 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 that he was “deeply saddened” by the helicopter crash and that his government was “in full contact and coordination” with the Iranian authorities.

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

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said the European 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 U.N. spokesperson said that U.N. Secretary-General António 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 Mr. Raisi’s leadership, Iran had widespread protests, particularly in 2022, when Iran launched a clampdown 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 in 2019 for complicity in human rights violations over three decades.

Military tensions have escalated between Iran and Israel in recent months because of 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.

USNN World News (USNN) USNN World News Corporation is a media company consisting of a series of sites specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information, local,...