Iran declares five days of mourning after President Raisi’s death

Update Iran declares five days of mourning after President Raisi’s death
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Rescue team members work at the crash site of a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Varzaghan, northwestern Iran on May 20, 2024. (MOJ News Agency/AFP)
Update Iran declares five days of mourning after President Raisi’s death
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Rescue team members carry the body of a victim at the crash site of a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Varzaghan, northwestern Iran on May 20, 2024. (MOJ News Agency/AFP)
Update Iran declares five days of mourning after President Raisi’s death
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Rescue vehicles drive on foggy weather following a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi in Varzaghan, northwestern Iran on May 19, 2024. (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)
Update The helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi takes off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after the inauguration of the dam of Qiz Qalasi, in Aras. (AFP)
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The helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi takes off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after the inauguration of the dam of Qiz Qalasi, in Aras. (AFP)
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Updated 21 May 2024
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Iran declares five days of mourning after President Raisi’s death

Iran declares five days of mourning after President Raisi’s death
  • Iran’s supreme leader appoints First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber acting president

DUBAI/TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced on Monday five days of mourning for President Ebrahim Raisi who died in a helicopter crash.

“I announce five days of public mourning and offer my condolences to the dear people of Iran,” said Khamenei in an official statement a day after the death of Raisi and other officials in the crash in East Azerbaijan province.

Khamenei has appointed First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber acting president and has a maximum period of 50 days to hold elections following the death of Raisi, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported. 

Raisi, the country’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media reported. Raisi was 63.

The government cabinet has appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani as acting foreign minister.

Lebanon and Syria on Monday announced three days of national mourning for the Iranian president and foreign minister, who were killed in a helicopter crash overnight near the Azerbaijan border.

Iran enjoys sway in both countries, backing the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah in Lebanon and supporting Syria’s government and security forces stay in power throughout more than a decade of war.

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am about this incident that happened. Especially that the foreign minister had become a friend,” Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib told reporters on Monday.




Rescue team works following a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, in Varzaqan, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, on May 19, 2024. (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

The helicopter also carried the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, other officials and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Early Monday morning, Turkish authorities released what they described as drone footage showing what appeared to be a fire in the wilderness that they “suspected to be wreckage of helicopter.” The coordinates listed in the footage put the fire some 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Azerbaijan-Iranian border on the side of a steep mountain.




In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Ebrahim Raisi, right, shakes hands with his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev during their meeting in the inauguration ceremony of dam of Qiz Qalasi, or Castel of Girl in Azeri, at the border of Iran and Azerbaijan, on May 19, 2024. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Footage released by the IRNA early Monday showed what the agency described as the crash site, across a steep valley in a green mountain range. Soldiers speaking in the local Azeri language said: “There it is, we found it.”

Condolences started pouring in from neighbors and allies after Iran confirmed there were no survivors from the crash. Pakistan announced a day of mourning and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a post on X that his country “stands with Iran in this time of sorrow.” Leaders of Egypt and Jordan also offered condolences, as did Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Azerbaijan’s 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 crash happened.




In this photo posted on social media by the Iran News Agency, a group of people from Hamadan, western Iran are seen praying for the health of President Raisi and his accompanying delegation. (X: @IrnaEnglish)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan conveyed his condolences. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement released by the Kremlin, described Raisi “as a true friend of Russia.”

Khamenei, who had himself urged the public to pray Sunday night, stressed the business of Iran’s government would continue no matter what.


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Iran’s President Raisi and FM Amir-Abdollahian join a long list of world leaders who have perished in air disasters


Under the Iranian constitution, Iran’s vice first president takes over if the president dies, with Khamenei’s assent, and a new presidential election would be called within 50 days.

First Vice President Mokhber already had begun receiving calls from officials and foreign governments in Raisi’s absence, state media reported. An emergency meeting of Iran’s Cabinet was held as state media made the announcement Monday morning. The Cabinet issued a statement afterward pledging it would follow Raisi’s path and that “with the help of God and the people, there will be no problem with management of the country.”




A handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on May 19, 2024, shows him speaking during meeting of members of the Revolutionary Guards in Tehran. (AFP)

A hard-liner who formerly led the country’s judiciary, Raisi was viewed as a protégé of Khamenei and some analysts had suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after Khamenei’s death or resignation.

With Raisi’s death, the only other person so far suggested has been Mojtaba Khameini, the 55-year-old son to the supreme leader. However, some have raised concerns over the position being taken only for the third time since 1979 to a family member, particularly after the Islamic Revolution overthrew the hereditary Pahlavi monarchy of the shah.




People follow the news of a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi on a TV in a shop in Tehran on May 19, 2024. (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

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

Under Raisi, Iran now enriches uranium at nearly weapons-grade levels and hampers international inspections. Iran has armed Russia in its war on Ukraine, as well as launched a massive drone-and-missile attack on Israel amid its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It also has continued arming proxy groups in the Mideast, like Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, mass protests in the country have raged for years. The most recent involved the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who had been earlier detained over allegedly not wearing a hijab, or headscarf, to the liking of authorities. The monthslong security crackdown that followed the demonstrations killed more than 500 people and saw over 22,000 detained.

In March, a United Nations investigative panel found 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 bomb blast killed President Mohammad Ali Rajai in the chaotic days after the country’s Islamic Revolution.


US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog

US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog
Updated 5 sec ago
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US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog

US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog

WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Thursday that Washington and its allies were prepared to continue to increase pressure on Iran if Tehran does not cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a UN nuclear watchdog report said earlier in the day. The State Department said the report showed that Iran aimed to continue expanding its nuclear program “in ways that have no credible peaceful purpose.”


Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military

Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military
Updated 55 min 28 sec ago
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Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military

Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military

DUBAI: Two cruise missiles launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck a bulk cargo carrier in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, severely injuring a sailor who was evacuated by American forces, the US military said.

The Houthis have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 2023 in attacks they say are in solidarity with Palestinians during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

Although this has caused major disruption to international shipping, casualties have been rare.

The M/V Verbena — a Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, Polish-operated ship — “reported damage and subsequent fires on board. The crew continues to fight the fire. One civilian mariner was severely injured during the attack,” the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

“Aircraft from USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) medically evacuated the injured mariner to a partner force ship nearby for medical attention,” CENTCOM said.

“This continued reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.”

The Houthis on Thursday said they had carried out attacks on three ships within the past 24 hours, including on the Verbena, “in retaliation to the crimes committed against our people in the Gaza Strip, and in response to the American-British aggression against our country.”

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) meanwhile reported an explosion close to a merchant vessel in the Red Sea about 80 nautical miles northwest of Yemen’s Hodeida port, with no damage or casualties.

The Houthis have launched scores of drone and missile attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November.

The first reported fatalities from the attacks on ships occurred in the Gulf of Aden in March.

On Wednesday, the Houthis struck the Tutor, a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier, southwest of Hodeida. They claimed to have used seaborne and aerial drones, and ballistic missiles.

CENTCOM later said the Tutor had been struck by a Houthi “unmanned surface vessel” that “caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room.”


UN Security Council demands halt to siege of Sudan city of 1.8 mln people

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
Updated 13 June 2024
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UN Security Council demands halt to siege of Sudan city of 1.8 mln people

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
  • Council adopted British-drafted resolution that also calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians in Al-Fashir

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir — a city of 1.8 million people in Sudan’s North Dafur region — by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and an immediate end to fighting in the area.
The 15-member council adopted a British-drafted resolution that also calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians in Al-Fashir, the last big city in the vast, western Darfur region not under RSF control.
War erupted in Sudan in April last year between the Sudanese army (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), creating the world’s largest displacement crisis. Top UN officials have warned that the worsening violence around Al-Fashir threatens to “unleash bloody intercommunal strife throughout Darfur.”


Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid
Updated 13 June 2024
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Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid
  • The West Bank has seen a surge in violence since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza
  • Troops surrounded a building where two gunmen were holed up, exchanging fire with them, the army said

QABATIYA, West Bank: Israeli forces raided a town in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, killing three Palestinians and detaining several others in what the army described as an operation to pre-empt militant attacks.
The West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has seen a surge in violence since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
During the raid in Qabatiya, troops surrounded a building where two gunmen were holed up, exchanging fire with them, the army said. The two Palestinians were killed and witnesses saw the body of one them being lifted out by an armored bulldozer.
A third Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops elsewhere in the town, medical officials said.
There was no immediate claim of the dead men by any armed Palestinian faction. The army described the two killed in the building as “senior terrorists” without elaborating, and added that weapons were seized in the raid.
Several Palestinians were detained by troops, who also “exposed explosives planted into roads which were intended to be used to attack the forces,” the army statement said.
A soldier was wounded during exchanges of fire, it added.


Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA

Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA
Updated 13 June 2024
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Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA

Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA
  • Tehran is installing more cascades at the enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow
  • A cascade is a series of centrifuges, machines used in the process of enriching uranium

VIENNA: Iran is further expanding its nuclear capacities, the UN atomic watchdog said Thursday, one week after the agency’s board of governors passed a resolution criticizing Tehran’s lack of cooperation with the IAEA.
The International Atomic Energy Agency informed its members that Tehran told it that it was installing more cascades at the enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow, according to a statement sent to AFP.
A diplomatic source deemed this development as “moderate.”
A cascade is a series of centrifuges, machines used in the process of enriching uranium.
The motion brought by Britain, France and Germany — but opposed by China and Russia — at the IAEA’s 35-nation board last week was the first of its kind since November 2022.
The resolution — which Tehran slammed as “hasty and unwise” — came amid an impasse over Iran’s escalating nuclear activities and as Western powers fear Tehran may be seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, a claim Iran denies.
Although symbolic in nature at this stage, the censure motion aims to raise diplomatic pressure on Iran, with the option to potentially refer the issue to the UN Security Council.
In the past, similar resolutions have prompted Tehran to retaliate by removing surveillance cameras and other equipment from its nuclear facilities and ratcheting up its uranium enrichment activities.
According to the IAEA, Iran is the only non-nuclear weapon state to enrich uranium to the high level of 60 percent — just short of weapons-grade — while it keeps accumulating large uranium stockpiles.
The IAEA has said that Tehran has significantly ramped up its nuclear program and now has enough material to build several atomic bombs.
The Islamic republic has gradually broken away from its commitments under the nuclear deal it struck with world powers in 2015.
The landmark deal provided Iran with relief from Western sanctions in exchange for curbs on its atomic program, but it fell apart after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States under then-president Donald Trump in 2018.
Efforts to revive the deal have so far failed.