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Iranian officials, state media confirm President Raisi killed in helicopter crash

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 20, 2024 9:55 AM 2 min read
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during the funeral ceremony for victims of twin explosions near the cemetery where the grave of Iran's former top military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani is located on Jan. 5, 2024, in Kerman, Iran. (Getty Images)
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The Iranian Cabinet of Ministers convened an emergency meeting on May 20 after the official confirmation of the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Raisi's death was previously reported by the Iranian state media. The country's vice-president for executive affairs, Mohsen Mansouri, also confirmed Raisi's death.

The day before, Iranian state media claimed the helicopter made a "hard landing" near Tabriz in the northwest of Iran. Rescue teams worked for over 12 hours amid dense fog and freezing temperatures until they found the burned wreckage of the aircraft.

The crash has also reportedly killed Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian along with several other officials, members of the president's security team, and the crew.

Mohammad Mokhber, the Iranian First vice-president, is expected to become the country's interim president and help organize early presidential elections within the next 50 days.

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021 in a vote described as "neither free nor fair" by Human Rights Watch.

Iran is one of Russia's closest allies on the international stage. The two countries have only deepened their military and political cooperation since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Most notably, Iran has provided Russia with thousands of Shahed kamikaze drones used in airstrikes against Ukraine and has helped Moscow build a drone factory in Russia, as well as reportedly sending thousands of ballistic missiles.

Explainer: Iran’s cheap, effective Shahed drones and how Russia uses them in Ukraine
Editor’s note: This story initially said that Shahed-136 drones are said to weigh 10-15 kilograms. It was corrected since that is the weight of the warhead, and the drones weigh about 200 kilograms. Iran’s massive aerial assault on Israel over the weekend felt close to home for Ukraine. In a
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