Iran president Ebrahim Raisi death: Israel denies involvement in helicopter crash

Ebrahim Raisi died in Sunday’s crash along with foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials and bodyguards.

Iran helicopter crash latest updates: President Raisi confirmed dead as wreckage found
Iran helicopter crash latest updates: President Raisi confirmed dead as wreckage found
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The death of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi has prompted mixed reactions, with the Islamic Republic declaring five-days of mourning while some Persians have been celebrating.

Raisi was killed alongside the country's foreign minister killed alongside the country's foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

The helicopter is believed to have crashed while crossing mountainous terrain in heavy fog. Rescue teams found no signs of life after locating the crash site on Monday close to the border with Azerbaijan, about 375 miles from the Iranian capital of Tehran.

Iran is yet to point the blame at anyone else, and on Monday, an Israeli official denied involvement in the crash, telling the Reuters news agency: “It wasn’t us."

Raisi, 63, was widely regarded as a hardliner in the country and was nicknamed the 'butcher of Tehran' over his role in sentencing thousands of Iranian prisoners to their deaths in 1988.

While state TV paid tribute for the late president, his death fetched a more muted response from ordinary Iranians, many of whom are frustrated by Iran's economic stagnation and its recent brutal crackdown on women's rights.

Here are some of the main events of today as Iran deals with the aftermath:

  • Ebrahim Raisi confirmed dead after rescuers find the wreckage of his helicopter in the foggy and hilly terrain of Iran's East Azerbaijan Province. Foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and several other officials were also killed.

  • Palestinian militant group Hamas, who are backed by Iran, pay tribute and express their "deepest condolences and solidarity".

  • Several international leaders expressed their condolences too, with Vladimir Putin emphasising Russia's strong ties with Iran and Xi Jinping claiming the Chinese people had lost a "good friend".

  • Mohammad Mokhber was appointed interim president, meaning he will lead the country (while answering to the supreme leader) for the next 50 days until a new full-time president can be selected. Holding his first cabinet meeting on Monday, he insisted business would continue as usual.

  • As conspiracy theories began to circulate online Israel - a long time foe of Iran - denied any involvement in Raisi's death. An Israeli official told the Reuters news agency: "It wasn't us."

  • Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei declares five days of mourning, while other countries including Lebanon, Syria and Pakistan announce their own mourning periods. However, the response among ordinary Iranians is mixed, with some living overseas openly celebrating Raisi's death in the streets.

Yahoo News has closed its live blog. Read below for a recap of today's news.

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER36 updates
  • Putin stresses strong ties with Iran as he calls new interim president

    HARBIN, CHINA - MAY 17: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a press conference at the Harbin Institute of Technology, May 17, 2024, in Harbin, China. Russian President Putin is having a two-day visit to China. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)
    Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences. (Getty Images)

    Russian president Vladimir Putin has phoned Iran's new interim president, making clear his desire to preserve and build on Moscow's deepening relationship with Tehran.

    The Kremlin said Putin expressed his condolences to interim president Mohammad Mokhber and to the whole Iranian people over Ebrahim Raisi's death, describing the late leader as a "reliable partner who made an invaluable personal contribution" to bilateral relations.

    "Both sides emphasised their mutual desire to further consistently strengthen comprehensive Russian-Iranian interaction for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries," the Kremlin said in its readout of the Putin-Mokhber call.

    State news agency RIA quoted Sergei Shoigu, secretary of Russia's Security Council, as saying Moscow could assist Iran in its investigation of the crash.

    Since the state of the war in Ukraine, Russia has moved to strengthen its political, trade and military ties with Iran in a deepening relationship that the United States and Israel view with concern.

  • Fatal crash 'won't intefere with running of country', vice president tells cabinet

    May 20, 2024, Tehran, Iran: Iranian First Vice President MOHAMMAD MOKHBER (2L) speaks during an extraordinary meeting of the government board in Tehran. President Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and several others were killed in a helicopter crash in the mountainous Varzaghan area on 19 May, during their return to Tehran, after an inauguration ceremony of the joint Iran-Azerbaijan constructed Qiz-Qalasi dam at the Aras river. (Credit Image: © Iranian Presidency via ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!
    Iranian First Vice President at today's cabinet meeting - the first since Raisi's death. (Alamy)

    Iran's cabinet has met for the first time since the death of Ebrahim Raisi, with the country's new interim head insisting business will carry on as usual.

    "This is a serious incident for all of us, it is sad and upsetting, but in the interests of the country and our people, we won't have any disruption," said first vice president Mohammad Mokhber.

    "The country will continue moving forward under this leadership. Everyone should continue on with their roles despite this incident. In no way will this tragic incident interfere with the government and running of our country."

    The 68-year-old Mokhber with the speaker of parliament and the head of the judiciary now has 50 days to organise the election of a new president.

    Mokhber, like Raisi, is seen as close to supreme leade Khamenei, who has the last say in all matters of state. Mokhber became first vice president in 2021 when Raisi was elected president.

  • Death of Raisi could stir rivalries within political elite

    Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi's death has upset the plans of hardliners who wanted him to succeed supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insiders say.

    They add that it will stir rivalries in their camp over who will take over the Islamic Republic when Khamenei dies.

    A protege of Khamenei who rose through the ranks of Iran's theocracy, Raisi, 63, was widely seen as a leading candidate to take over from the 85-year-old supreme leader – though it was far from being a foregone conclusion in Iran's opaque politics.

    His rise to the presidency was part of a consolidation of power in the hands of hardliners dedicated to shoring up the pillars of the Islamic republic against the risks posed by dissent at home and powerful enemies in a turbulent region.

    Raisi had enjoyed staunch backing from Khamenei, who had himself held the position of president before he became Supreme Leader in 1989.

    Raisi, backed by a group that wanted to see him become Supreme Leader, clearly wanted the role, said Vali Nasr, professor of Middle East Studies and International Affairs at John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

    "Now they don't have a candidate, and that opens the door for other factions or other figures to emerge as serious contenders," he said.

    For Raisi, a mid-ranking Site cleric, the presidency had been a vehicle to reach the supreme leadership. "There's no other candidate right now (with) that kind of a platform and that's why the presidential elections in Iran, however they unfold, will be the first decider about what comes next," Nasr added.

  • Iran's president, seven others, have died in a helicopter crash: here’s what we know — and what we don’t

    Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, 63, has died after his helicopter crashed in a remote area of the country on Sunday, the Iranian government confirmed Monday. In a country with a cleric-led government where the supreme leader has the final say, Raisi wasn’t the highest ranked official, but the highest elected official.

    Raisi was a conservative hardliner elected in 2021 and was viewed as a protege of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi’s government faced mass protests over the suffering economy and women’s rights. Relations between Iran and the West have also worsened during his tenure, with the country accelerating its nuclear enrichment program to weapons-grade levels.

    Read the full story from Yahoo News.

  • Iran officially in five days of mourning - but President Raisi's opponents celebrate his death with fireworks

    FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi looks on during a TV interview, in Tehran, Iran June 20, 2023. Iran's Presidency/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
    The death of Ebrahim Raisi has prompted a very mixed reaction. (Reuters)

    The death of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi has sparked differing reactions in Iran.

    While the Islamic Republic's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, announced five days of public mourning following the sudden death of Mr Raisi, 63, opponents of the regime have been celebrating with fireworks.

    On social media, activists such as Masih Alinejad - an Iranian-American author and women's rights campaigner who lives in New York City - are posting in jubilation at the demise of Mr Raisi.

    Read the full story from Sky News here

  • Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan expresses condolences

    FILE - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint statement with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the Carmelite Monastery in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023. Turkey's president has vowed to widen military operations against groups linked to Kurdish militants in neighboring Iraq and Syria, days after nine soldiers were killed in an attack on a Turkish military base in Iraq. (AP Photo/Denes Erdos, File)
    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey offered to help with the search and rescue operation. (Alamy)

    Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his condolences following the death of his Iranian counterpart.

    During a speech in Turkey's capital of Ankara, he said: "I wish God's mercy to the late Raisi and the Iranian foreign minister and other officials who lost their lives in the accident.

    "I would like to express the deep sorrow we feel for this tragic accident. On behalf of myself, my country, and my nation, I offer my condolences to the Iranian people.

    "After hearing the news of the accident, we immediately contacted the Iranian authorities and stated that we were ready to contribute to the search and rescue efforts with all our resources.

    "We sent Akinci drone and a Cougar-type helicopter with night vision capability to the region. Our search and rescue teams also immediately departed for the region to help our Iranian brothers."

  • UK security minister 'will not mourn' Ebrahim Raisi

    Security minister Tom Tugendhat is significantly less sympathetic than European Council president Charles Michel following the death of Ebrahim Raisi.

  • Gold hits high as Iran shock triggers haven support

    Ingots of 99.99 percent pure gold are placed in a workroom at Krastsvetmet precious metals plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, January 31, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Manzyuk/File Photo
    Gold is typically seen as a 'safe' commodity that investors turn to in turbulent times. (Reuters)

    The price of gold hit a record high Monday as the shock death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash boosted support for the precious metal seen as a haven investment.

    Copper also struck an all-time peak and silver jumped to the highest level in more than 11 years — with markets generally gaining from a brighter economic outlook.

    Gold had already hit a series of record highs this year.

    Read the full story from AFP here

  • How the Iranian power structure works

    https://www.cfr.org/article/islamic-republics-power-centers
    A guide to Iran's political structure, created before Ebrahim Raisi's death. (Council on Foreign Relations)

    Here is a guide to how Iran's somewhat convoluted political structure works, and who holds the most power within it.

    At the very top is the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the guardian jurist. He is head of state, and has significant power as a religious cleric, "under " theory that political authority springs from religious authority", according to the Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

    His roles, as set out by Iran's constitution, include setting national policies and supervising their implementation, commanding the armed forces, and appointing military chiefs and the heads of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and police.

    The Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts, a body of 88 directly elected jurists. They are tasked with overseeing the Supreme Leader, but they fulfil this role in secret, and it is "unclear whether they have sought to meaningfully check" Khamenei or his predecessor, Ruhollah Khomeini.

    Answering to the supreme leader is the president, who serves as head of government. Elected to a maximum of two four-year terms, the president is charged with executing the country’s laws and setting policy within parameters set by the supreme leader.

    The parliament, or majlis, has 290 seats. Its members are directly elected to four-year terms by geographic district, with five seats set aside for religious minorities.

    Another body, the Guardian Council, is charged with determining whether laws it passes are permissible under the constitution and Islamic precepts. Half of the council’s 12 members are theologians appointed by the supreme leader; while the rest are legal scholars selected by the parliament.

    The Expediency Council, established in 1988 to mediate between the parliament and Guardian Council, is another way the supreme leader can exercise authority, as he appoints its members to five-year terms.

    The Supreme National Security Council is led by the president and includes the parliamentary speaker, the heads of all three branches of government, military chiefs and the ministers of state, foreign affairs, and intelligence, as well as two personal representatives of the supreme leader. It is charged with setting a wide range of policies that touch on defence and security, responding to threats both foreign and domestic.

  • ‘People are in no mood to mourn’: mixed reactions in Tehran after death of President Ebrahim Raisi

    A man reads a newspaper with a front-page report on the crash of the Iranian president's helicopter outside a kiosk in Tehran on May 20, 2024. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was declared dead on May 20 after rescue teams found his crashed helicopter in a fog-shrouded western mountain region, sparking mourning in the Islamic republic. (Photo by Atta KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
    A man reads a newspaper outside a kiosk in Tehran this morning. (Getty Images)

    Activists in Iran have said there is little mood to mourn the death of the country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash near the border with Azerbaijan on Sunday.

    Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, announced a five-day public mourning period after the deaths of Raisi, the foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other passengers on the helicopter.

    However, Iranians who spoke to the Guardian have refused to lament the death of a man who they say was responsible for hundreds of deaths in his four-decade political career.

    Read the full story from the Guardian here

  • Many young Iranians 'dancing in joy' over Raisi's death, journalist says

    Five days of mourning may have been declared by Tehran, but not all Iranians have been left distraught by the death of Ebrahim Raisi.

    "Why should I hide my feelings while many young Iranians, especially women who have been wounded during uprisings, are sharing videos of dancing in joy over his death?," tweeted Iranian-American journalist and author Masih Alinejad.

    "His regime sent killers to New York to assassinate me, but I am alive and writing about his death."

    Alinejad said Iranians would continue to fight for "freedom, democracy and dignity" until Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his "religious dictatorship" are overthrown.

    Meanwhile footage shared by dissident news network Iran International shows people celebrating Raisi's death outside the Iranian embassy in London.

  • Iran has lost 'sincere and valuable servant', supreme leader says

    In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in meeting a group of families of the Revolutionary Guard members in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country's foreign minister and other officials apparently crashed in the mountainous northwest reaches of Iran on Sunday, sparking a massive rescue operation.
    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has paid his respects. (Alamy)

    Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has expressed 'sadness' and 'regret' over the death of Ebrahim Raisi.

    In a statement read out on Iranian state TV, he said the Islamic Republic had "lost a sincere and valuable servant".

    "May God bless him and grant him peace. This unfortunate incident happened during his time in service of the nation," he said.

    "Raisi was a noble person who, both during and before his short presidency, put his non-stop efforts in the service of the people, the country, and Islam.

    "In this tragic incident, the Iranian nation lost a sincere and valuable servant. For him, the welfare and satisfaction of the people was put over everything and the ingratitude of some ill-wishers did not prevent him from working day and night to improve current affairs."

    The supreme leader of Iran holds final religious and political authority over all affairs of the state. He is technically at the very top of the Iranian power structure.

    Answering to the supreme leader is the president, who serves as head of government, whose decisions the Ayatollah has a final say over.

  • Irish deputy premier says it's a 'very sad day' after helicopter crash

    Tanaiste Micheal Martin arrives for mass at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin to mark the the 50th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Picture date: Friday May 17, 2024. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)
    Tanaiste Micheal Martin said 'thoughts and prayers' were with the families of those involved. (Getty Images)

    Ireland's deputy premier Micheal Martin has expressed his condolences following the helicopter crash that killed Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi.

    The Tanaiste has been holding meetings in Lebanon as he seeks to bring the killers of Irish UN peacekeeper Private Sean Rooney to justice.

    Martin said that it is a “very sad day” following the death of Raisi, who was killed alongside foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and several other officials.

    Speaking before confirmation of their deaths, Mr Martin said: “I am aware of the reports in respect of both the Iranian president and the foreign minister. I have spoken to foreign minister Hossein on quite a number of occasions.

    “It is deeply concerning and we don’t yet have full confirmation but obviously our thoughts and our prayers are with the families involved in terms of potential fatalities. It is a very sad day when a situation like this occurs.”

  • Under-fire EU commissioner responds to criticism

    Janez Lenarcic appears to have responded to criticism over a tweet in which he expressed "solidarity" between the European Union and Iran.

    The EU's commissioner previously said he'd responded to a request for Iran for help following the helicopter crash that killed Ebrahim Raisi.

    Posting on X this morning, he had this to say:

  • EU commissioner criticised for Iran ‘solidarity’ hashtag

    Janez Lenarcic, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, photographed during his participation in the international humanitarian conference on Sudan and its neighboring countries.
    Janez Lenarcic, EU Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management. (Alamy)

    A European Union offer to find the helicopter that crashed killing the Iranian president was overshadowed by a row after a commissioner tweeted “#EUSolidarity” with Iran.

    Janez Lenarcic, the EU’s crisis commissioner, said the bloc was using its Copernicus emergency satellite mapping service to track down the aircraft, which was carrying Ebrahim Raisi.

    The helicopter crashed on Sunday over mountainous terrain in heavy fog, beginning a large-scale search that lasted more than 12 hours until the wreckage was found on Monday morning.

    Read the full story from the Telegraph here

  • Who was Ebrahim Raisi? Iranian president dies in helicopter crash

    Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi looks on during a meeting in Minab, Iran, February 2, 2024. Iran's Presidency/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
    Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, 63, was set to seek re-election next year. (Reuters)

    Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi has died after the helicopter he and other officials were in crashed during bad weather in a mountainous and forested region of the country.

    The 63-year-old, who served as a representative of hardline and conservative political groups in Iran for almost three years, was set to seek re-election next year.

    According to media sources, Raisi was on his way back to Tehran after meeting President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. But who was he and who will replace him?

    Read the full story from the Evening Standard here

  • Exiled opposition calls Raisi's death 'monumental blow' to Islamic Republic

    The death of Ebrahim Raisi "represents a monumental and irreparable strategic blow" to the entire Iranian regime, the country's exiled political opposition has said.

    In a statement, Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said the incident would trigger a "series of repercussions and crises" which will "spur rebellious youths into action".

    Writing on X, Rajavi added: "The curse of mothers and those seeking justice for the executed, along with the damnation of the Iranian people and history, mark the legacy of Ebrahim Raisi, the notorious perpetrator of the #1988Massacre of political prisoners.

    "While honouring the 30,000 PMOI members and other combatants who were massacred—and forever remembered by the Iranian people, I emphasize that the pursuit of justice will persist until the regime’s overthrow.

    "The destiny of all those who have executed and continue to execute Iran’s sons and daughters serves as a lesson to be learned."

    The NCRI is the political wing of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), a resistance group founded by leftist students in 1965,

    The group helped Islamists overthrow the Western-backed Shah in 1979, but broke violently with the clerics shortly after the revolution and were forced into exile in France in 1981, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

  • Will Iran blame Israel for the helicopter crash? The finger-pointing has already begun

    In this photo provided by Moj News Agency, rescue team members carry the body of a victim after a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed in Varzaghan in northwestern Iran, Monday, May 20, 2024. Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and several other officials were found dead on Monday, hours after their helicopter crashed in a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media reported. (Azin Haghighi, Moj News Agency via AP)
    Conspiracy theories have been spreading on social media, and some figures on Iranian state TV have been nurturing them. (Reuters)

    It did not take long for the first accusations of foul play to appear on Iranian state television following the announcement that Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s president, had died in a helicopter crash.

    Most reports, for now, focus on the poor, foggy conditions the craft was flying near the border between Iran and Azerbaijan, as well as the ageing nature of Iran’s fleet.

    There have not been formal claims that the helicopter was tampered with on the ground or during its flight. In his first comments on Monday morning with regards to the incident, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, called the crash an “unfortunate incident” and stopped short of suggesting foul play or blaming Israel.

    Read the full story from the Telegraph here

  • Rescuers at scene of helicopter crash in Varzaqan

    A team of rescuers have been pictured carrying a body bag and assessing the scene of Sunday's crash in Varzaqan in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province.

    Iranian state media said president Ebrahim Raisi was on his way back from a visit in Azerbaijan when one of the helicopters in his convoy was forced to make a "hard landing" due to poor weather and fog.

    Interior minister Ahmed Vahidi told state TV that the region is rugged and that it's difficult to make contact there.

    A view of the wreckage of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter at the crash site on a mountain in Varzaghan area, northwestern Iran, May 20, 2024. Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    A view of the wreckage of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter. (Reuters)
    Rescue team works following a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, in Varzaqan, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, May 20, 2024. Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    Rescue teams were slowed down by fog. (Reuters)
    Rescue team carry a body following a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, in Varzaqan, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, May 20, 2024.  Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    Rescuers carry a body following Sunday's helicopter crash. (Reuters)
    Rescue team carry a body following a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, in Varzaqan, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, May 20, 2024.  Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    Interior minister Ahmed Vahidi told state TV that the region is rugged and that it's difficult to make contact there. (Reuters)
    Rescue team carry a body following a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, in Varzaqan, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, May 20, 2024.  Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    A helicopter carrying president Ebrahim Raisi was forced to make a 'hard landing'. (Reuters)
  • President Raisi's death a perilous moment for Iran regime - but don't expect a change to foreign policy

    FILE: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (Ebrahim Raisolsadati) meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in New York, United States of America on September 20, 2023. A helicopter carrying Iranian President Raisi crashed in the mountains on May 19th, and state television reported that his survival was hopeless.( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )
    Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi's death will present a challenge to the regime, but it has safeguards in place for moments like these. (Alamy)

    This is a delicate time for Iran. President Raisi was the second most important man in Iran, after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    His death, now confirmed, will have far-reaching consequences.

    Although Khamenei has tried to reassure the country in recent hours, the regime will know this is a perilous moment that must be handled carefully.

    Read the full analysis of Sky News here

  • Mourners gather outside Iranian embassy in Moscow

    Mourners have laid flowers outside the Iranian embassy in Moscow to pay tribute to the late president Ebrahim Raisi.

    One man could be seen outside the building holding a placard with Raisi's face, saying "we mourn".

    Russia has close political and economic ties to Iran, with both countries facing various economic sanctions from the West.

    The Islamic Republic has been selling Russia drones used in its war in Ukraine, while Iran has been helping Moscow circumvent oil sanctions with a "ghost armada" of 16 ships.

    A woman brings flowers to the Iranian embassy to pay tribute to Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of a recent helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Iran's border with Azerbaijan, in Moscow, Russia, May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
    A woman brings flowers to the Iranian embassy in Russia's capital. (Reuters)
    A flag flies at half-mast at the Iranian embassy, after Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei announced five days of mourning for President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of a recent helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Iran's border with Azerbaijan, in Moscow, Russia, May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
    A flag flies at half-mast at the Iranian embassy in Moscow. (Reuters)
    A view shows flowers outside the Iranian embassy placed to pay tribute to Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of a recent helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Iran's border with Azerbaijan, in Moscow, Russia, May 20, 2024. A placard with a portrait of Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi reads:
    A placard reads, "We mourn" in Russian. (Reuters)
    People come to the Iranian embassy to pay tribute to Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of a recent helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Iran's border with Azerbaijan, in Moscow, Russia, May 20, 2024. A placard with a portrait of Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi reads:
    Russia and Iran have close economic and political ties as each country faces Western sanctions. (Reuters)
    A man lays flowers outside the Iranian embassy to pay tribute to Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of a recent helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Iran's border with Azerbaijan, in Moscow, Russia, May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
    Well-wishers have been paying their respects. (Reuters)
  • China's Xi Jinping calls Iranian president a 'good friend'

    President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping held an official welcome ceremony for President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
    China's president Xi Jinping has sent his condolences after Ebrahim Raisi's death. (Alamy)

    China's president Xi Jinping has paid tribute following the death of Ebrahim Raisi as reflected on his country's strong ties with Iran.

    On behalf of the Chinese leader, a foreign ministry spokesperson said: "President Xi Jinping has sent a message to Iran's first vice president Mokhber expressing the deep condolences on behalf of the Chinese government and the people for the tragic death of president Raisi in a helicopter accident.

    "He extended sincere sympathies to the first vice president Mokhber, president Raisi's family, and the Iranian government and people.

    "President Xi pointed out that since taking office, president Raisi made significant contributions to maintaining Iran's security and stability, and promoting the country's development and prosperity.

    "He also made active efforts to strengthen and develop the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Iran. His unfortunate death is a great loss to the Iranian people, and also caused the Chinese people to lose a good friend."

  • How the helicopter crash that claimed Raisi's life unfolded

    In this photo provided by Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA on May 19, 2024, shows the helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi taking off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after the inauguration of the dam of Qiz Qalasi, in Aras.
    A photo supplied by the IRNA news agency shows the helicopter carrying Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi taking off on Sunday before the crash. (AFP)

    Ebrahim Raisi and other Iranian officials were on board the helicopter following a visit to discuss a dam project with the president of Azerbaijan.

    The helicopter, reportedly a US-made Bell 212, crashed between the city of Jolfa and the border region of Varzaqan.

    It was reported that the helicopter burst into flames after crashing in heavy fog on the side of a steep mountain.

    Read more about how the helicopter crash unfolded from The Independent here.

  • Fake pictures of fatal helicopter crash flood social media

    A number of images claiming to be from the crash site where Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi lost his life were shared on social media after the helicopter went down.

    The problem was that many of them were fake.

    Shayan Sardarizadeh, a journalist at BBC Verify, pointed out on X, formerly Twitter, that several images that some users said depicted the crash were in fact from a different incident four years ago in another part of Iran.

    He said one fake image had already racked up 2.8 million views.

  • How Raisi got his nickname of 'the Butcher of Tehran'

    Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, in Tehran on September 22, 2023. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
    Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi delivering a speech last September during a parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. (AFP via Getty Images)

    Ebrahim Raisi was one of Iran's hardest of hardliners, a fanatical and absolute believer in the Iranian revolution and its mission, Sky News reports.

    His fearsome reputation went back to the 1980s, a period that earned him the soubriquet "the Butcher of Tehran".

    As a young prosecutor, Raisi sat on a panel that oversaw the execution of hundreds of political prisoners in the capital in 1988, as Iran's eight-year war with Iraq was coming to an end, human rights groups say.

    Read more about Raisi's past in this obituary from Reuters here.

  • Supreme leader declares five days of national mourning in Iran

    TEHRAN, IRAN - MAY 19: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY  MANDATORY CREDIT - 'IRANIAN LEADER PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei makes a speech on the crash-landing of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's convoy helicopter after attending the inauguration of a dam on the Azerbaijani border on May 19, 2024, in Tehran, Iran. (Photo by Iranian Leader Press Office/Anadolu via Getty Images)
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei. (Getty Images)

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has declared five days of national mourning following the death of president Ebrahim Raisi.

    Khamenei said that first vice president Mohammad Mokhber is in charge of the executive branch and has a maximum period of 50 days to hold elections.

    Iran's news agency IRNA reported that Ali Bagheri Kani has been named acting foreign minister after Hossein Amir-Abdollahian died in the crash.

  • Iran's government holds 'extraordinary meeting'

    Iran's three branches of government held an extraordinary meeting on Monday following Raisi's death.

    "We will follow the path of President Raisi in fulfilling assigned duties without any interruption," first vice-president Mohammad Mokhber said.

    The three branches are the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.

    If a president dies in office, the Islamic Republic's constitution says that the first vice-president takes over for an interim period of 50 days, with the approval of the Supreme Leader, who has the final say in all matters of state in Iran.

    A new presidential election would be held at the end of the 50 days.

  • Putin sends his 'deep condolences' after Raisi death

    HARBIN, CHINA - MAY 17: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles during his meeting with students at the Harbin Institute of Technology, May 17, 2024, in Harbin, China. Russian President Putin is having a two-day visit to China. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)
    Russian president Vladimir Putin. (Getty Images)

    Russian president Vladimir Putin has sent his condolences to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday.

    "Please accept my deep condolences in connection with the great tragedy that befell the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Putin told Khamenei in a message, the Kremlin said.

    "Seyed Ebrahim Raisi was an outstanding politician whose entire life was devoted to serving the Motherland," Putin said.

    "As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good neighbourly relations between our countries and made great efforts to bring them to the level of strategic partnership."

  • Israel says it was not involved in Raisi's death

    Israel has said it was not involved in Raisi's death.

    An Israeli official, who wished to remain anonymous, told Reuters on Monday: "It wasn't us."

    Iran and Israel have been enemies since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and Iran backs Palestinian militants Hamas with weapons, training and arms in their fight against Israel.

  • Who is Mohammad Mokhber, the man about to become Iran's president?

    November 8, 2023, Tehran, Iran: Iranian First Vice President MOHAMMAD MOKHBER attends the Iranian President's farewell ceremony before leaving Tehran's Mehrabad airport to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. (Credit Image: © Rouzbeh Fouladi/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!
    Iranian vice president Mohammad Mokhber is expected to be named president. (Reuters)

    Mohammad Mokhber, 68, is expected to become Iran's new president following the death of Ebrahim Raisi.

    Like his predecessor, he is viewed as close to the country's supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

    Read some key facts about Mokhber from Reuters as he is set to become president.

  • Images from drone footage show wreckage of helicopter

    Drone footage showed the site of the crash. (Reuters)
    Drone footage showed the site of the crash. (Reuters)
    IRAN - MAY 20: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY - MANDATORY CREDIT - 'IRANIAN RED CRESCENT SOCIETY / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) A screen grab captured from a video shows the location of wreck of helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation has been detected in Iran on May 20, 2024. Helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed after the inauguration of a dam on the border along with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Jabrayil district of Azerbaijan on May 19, 2024. (Photo by Iranian Red Crescent Society/Anadolu via Getty Images)
    A screen grab from a video shows the location of the wreckage of the helicopter. (Getty Images)
    IRAN - MAY 20: A screen grab captured from a video shows from Akinci Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which participated in search and rescue operations for the helicopter carrying the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation in Iran on May 20, 2024. The Iranian Red Crescent Society announced early Monday that they had found the location of the wreckage of President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter after it was detected by a Turkish Akinci unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Speaking to local media, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent, Pir Hossein Kolivand, said that two kilometers are left to reach the area where the wreckage is located. (Photo by Anadolu/Anadolu via Getty Images)
    A huge search and rescue operation was launched after the crash. (Getty Images)

    Images captured from drone footage have shown the wreckage of the helicopter that crashed with Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi on board.

    The Getty news agency published several pictures from the crash, which show the aircraft in a heavily forested area.

    It crashed near the city of Jolfa, close to the border with Azerbaijan, about 375 miles (603km) from Tehran.

    Iranian aid organisation Red Crescent said more than 70 rescue teams were sent to the area, some using drones and search dogs.

  • President's death comes as Iran already facing huge challenges

    People pray for President Ebrahim Raisi in a ceremony at Vali-e-Asr square in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. A helicopter carrying President Raisi, the country's foreign minister and other officials apparently crashed in the mountainous northwest reaches of Iran on Sunday, sparking a massive rescue operation in a fog-shrouded forest as the public was urged to pray. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
    Iran is in mourning for its president Ebrahim Raisi. AP Photo)

    The death of Ebrahim Raisi comes at a time when the country, faced by unprecedented external challenges, was already bracing itself for a change in regime with the expected demise in the next few years of its 85-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    In the country’s hydra-headed leadership where power is spread in often opaque ways between clerics, politicians and army, it is the supreme leader, and not the president, that is ultimately decisive.

    Read how Raisi's death comes at a time when Iran faces huge challenges from The Guardian here

  • Who was Ebrahim Raisi?

    FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a meeting in Moscow, Russia December 7, 2023. Sputnik/Sergei Bobylev/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    Ebrahim Raisi meets Vladimir Putin in December 2023. (Reuters)

    Ebrahim Raisi, 63, previously ran Iran's judiciary. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 2017 against Hassan Rouhani, the relatively moderate cleric who as president reached Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

    In 2021, Raisi ran again in an election that saw all of his potentially prominent opponents barred for running under Iran's vetting system. He swept nearly 62% of the 28.9 million votes, the lowest turnout by percentage in the Islamic Republic’s history. Millions stayed home and others voided ballots.

    Raisi was defiant when asked at a news conference after his election about the 1988 executions, which saw sham retrials of political prisoners, militants and others that would become known as “death commissions” at the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

    Read the full profile of Iran's killed president from the Associated Press here

  • Where did the helicopter crash and who was on board?

    A number of Iranian officials were on board the helicopter. (Getty Images)
    A number of Iranian officials were on board the helicopter. (Getty Images)

    Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi was on board the helicopter with foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials.

    The crash happened near the city of Jolfa, close to the border with Azerbaijan, about 375 miles (603km) from the Iranian capital of Tehran.

  • What we know about the death of Ebrahim Raisi

    JABRAYAIL, AZERBAIJAN - MAY 19:  (EDITOR’S NOTE: This Handout image was provided by a third-party organization and may not adhere to Getty Images’ editorial policy.) In this handout image supplied by the Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Meets with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev as they inaugurate the Qiz Qalasi Dam, constructed on the Aras River on the joint borders between Iran and Azerbaijan, after which his helicopter has reportedly crashed near the city of Jolfa, on the border with Azerbaijan on May 19, 2024 in Jabrayil, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran via Getty Images)
    Ebrahim Raisi. (Getty Images)

    The Guardian has compiled a useful breakdown of what we know so far about the crash:

    • The government has yet to make an official statement but the state-run news agency Irna reported that an urgent cabinet meeting had been called and a statement was expected soon.

    • After an hours-long search hampered by fog and rain, rescuers found the burnt-out wreckage of the helicopter on a mountainside. The head of the Iranian Red Crescent, Pir Hossein Kolivand, said as rescuers approached the wreckage, that there were “no signs of life”.

    • A total of nine people were on board the aircraft, according to Tasnim news agency. These included the governor of East Azerbaijan, Malek Rahmati, and Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, the representative of the leader of the Islamic evolution to East Azarbaijan province.

    Read the full article here

  • Hamas calls Raisi's death an 'immense loss'

    Palestinian militant group Hamas has paid tribute to president Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash, and expressed its "deepest condolences and solidarity" to Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei, the Iranian government, and the Iranian people for "this immense loss".

    It praised Raisi for supporting the Palestinian cause and resistance against Israel and expressed confidence that Iran's "deep-rooted institutions" will enable it to overcome "the repercussions of this great loss".