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Iran president helicopter crash: rescuers search for Ebrahim Raisi – live updates | Iran

Ebrahim Raisi is a hardliner who was instrumental in the last few years in steering Iran back towards the more uncompromising beliefs of the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary founders.

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A supporter of deeply conservative values on the domestic front, in terms of foreign policy, Raisi also carved out an increasingly aggressive stance, and it was on his watch that Tehran opted to launch its recent unprecedented missile and drone strike against Israel bringing the two countries into direct and open conflict for the first time.

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While he was elected president in June 2021, having represented himself as the best person to fight corruption and Iran’s economic problems, Raisi had long occupied important positions in Iran, including an alleged key role in the so-called Death Committee responsible for executing thousands of prisoners in the 1980s – a claim he has denied.

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Born in 1960 into a clerical family in Mashdad, Raisi was a child of the revolution that overthrew the Shah after he had travelled to Qom to attend a Shia seminary at the age of 15, following in his father’s footsteps.

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While still a young student, he joined the mass protests against the western-backed Shah in 1979 that would lead to the Islamic Revolution under the guidance of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a cleric until his dramatic return from exile in France.

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In the turbulent first years of the Islamic Revolution, the young Raisi continued with his studies at the Shahid Motahari University in Tehran, where he received a doctorate in Islamic jurisprudence and law.

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Joining the judiciary, Raisi, aged just 25 – like many other young men of his generation – would find himself catapulted into important office, in his case as the deputy prosecutor of Tehran.

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It was while still in that role, say human rights groups, that he became one of four judges sitting on the infamous Death Committee, a secret tribunal set up in 1988 to retry thousands of prisoners, many of them members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq group.

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A helicopter carrying the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, and his foreign minister crashed on a fog-covered mountainside, with search and rescue teams rushing to the area as state media called for nationwide prayers.

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State TV reported that the helicopter had been found on Sunday evening, well after dark, and quoted an official as saying that at least one passenger and one crew member had been in contact with rescuers.

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Still, details were scant and sometimes conflicting, including Iranian Red Crescent rescuers later saying no helicopter had been found.

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With no published information of whether the president was alive or dead, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – who holds ultimate power in the Islamic Republic – sought to reassure the nation.

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Iranians should not worry or be anxious, he said, adding: “No disruption will occur in Iran’s state affairs.”

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An Iranian official, however, had told earlier Reuters that the lives of Raisi and the foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian – who was travelling with him – were “at risk following the helicopter crash”. They added: “We are still hopeful, but information coming from the crash site is very concerning.”

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Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the search for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after a helicopter crash.

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The Iranian leader was travelling in a mountainous area of East Azerbaijan province with foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian following a visit to neighbouring Azerbaijan to inaugurate a dam when the crash happened.

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Iranian state media blamed bad weather for the crash, which was also described initially by media as a “hard landing”, and said the conditions were complicating rescue efforts.

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There have been conflicting reports on whether the helicopter has been found.

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Here are the key developments:

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  • Iranian state TV reported that the helicopter had been found by search teams. There was no update on the condition of those onboard. However, Iran’s Red Crescent later denied the state TV report. The location of the helicopter is still unknown.

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  • The incident, which involved one helicopter in a convoy of three, was described by Iranian state television as an accident.

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  • An unnamed Iranian official told Reuters that the lives of the president and his foreign minister were “at risk” after a “crash” as it was crossing mountain terrain in heavy fog.

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  • An unnamed Iranian official told state media that contact had been made on several occasions with a passenger and a crew member, but there have been no further updates.

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team in Barzakan, East Azerbaijan after the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashes.”,”caption”:”Barzakan, East Azerbaijan after the accident. A rescue team carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashes. “html”:”

    \n

  • Three rescue workers who were searching for the crashed helicopter were reported missing by the Red Crescent Society, but they were later clarified. A spokeswoman said search and rescue operations would be delayed as the weather was expected to soon become “bitter and cold” with more rain expected. Other media reported that the rain had turned to snow.

  • \n

  • Raisi was traveling to Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State television said the area where the helicopter incident occurred was near the city of Jolfa on the border with Azerbaijan. The president had traveled to Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate the dam with the country’s President Ilham Aliyev. This dam is the third dam built by both countries on the Aras River.

  • \n

  • Iranian army chief of staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said all military resources would be used in search and rescue operations, state television reported. Bagheri said military personnel had sent a team to the area, along with the Revolutionary Guards and police.

  • \n

  • Iraq has instructed its Interior Ministry, Red Crescent Society and other relevant agencies to offer assistance to neighboring Iran to assist in the search. Türkiye, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also offered support.

  • \n

  • Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, sought to reassure Iranians by saying there would be no turmoil in the country’s affairs.

  • \n

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important events

Earlier on Sunday, Iran’s state-run Irnar news agency published images showing a helicopter carrying President Raisi taking off from near the border with Azerbaijan.

Accompanying him were Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, other officials and bodyguards, the Irnar news agency said.

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took off near the Iran-Azerbaijan border on Sunday. Photo: Ali Hamed Haghdoust/Reuters

According to the Irnar news agency, Raisi was on board a US-made Bell 212 helicopter.

Iran flies a variety of helicopters domestically, but international sanctions have made it difficult to obtain parts.

The company’s military aviation fleet dates back primarily to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Photos published by the Irnar news agency show the helicopter with the same blue and white livery seen in previously published photos.

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Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

Peter Beaumont

Ebrahim Raisi is a hardliner who has worked in recent years to return Iran to the more uncompromising beliefs of the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary founders.

Although he espouses deeply conservative values ​​domestically, Raisi has taken an increasingly aggressive stance on foreign policy, with Iran recently opting for an unprecedented missile and drone attack. However, the choice to bring both countries together was under Raisi’s watch. For the first time, they entered into direct and open conflict.

Mr. Raisi was elected president in June 2021, representing himself as the best person to fight corruption and Iran’s economic problems, but the so-called “death commissions” responsible for carrying out thousands of executions were He held an important position in Iran for many years, and is said to have played an important role in the war. There was a prisoner in the 1980s, but he denied this claim.

Born in 1960 to a family of clerics in Mashdad, Raisi followed in his father’s footsteps and moved to Qom at age 15 to attend a Shiite seminary before becoming a product of the revolution that overthrew the shah.

As a young student in 1979, under the leadership of Ruhollah Khomeini, a cleric before his dramatic return from exile in France, he took part in mass protests against the Shah, supported by Western powers, that led to the Islamic Revolution. did.

During the turbulent first years of the Islamic Revolution, the young Raisi continued his studies at Shahid Motahari University in Tehran, where he earned a doctorate in Islamic jurisprudence and law.

Like many young people of his generation, Raisi, who is just 25 years old, will be catapulted into the important role of Tehran’s deputy prosecutor when he joins the Justice Department.

Human rights groups say it was during his time in that role that he became one of four judges on the infamous Death Commission. group.

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Patrick Winter

Patrick Winter

The Iranian helicopter crash comes as the country faces unprecedented external challenges and is already bracing for a regime change, with the expected death of 85-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei within the next few years. It happened at the same time.

The country’s Hydra-led leadership, with power often opaquely distributed between the clergy, politicians and military, with the supreme leader, not the president, making the final decisions.

The presidency, no matter how loyal to the supreme leader – and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is considered to be very loyal to Ayatollah Khamenei – is often a scapegoat that helps the supreme leader avoid criticism. He is given the role of Goat. That certainly became the fate of Raisi’s predecessor Hassan Rouhani, who became a punching bag for decisions made elsewhere.

In recent months, Raisi, who will be elected president in 2021 but was actually handpicked by the supreme leader, has been mentioned as a possible successor to Khamenei. If his death is confirmed, it will clear a thorny path for Khamenei’s son Mojtaba Khamenei in his place.

The choice was made by an 88-strong “council of experts” and while Raisi’s resignation would certainly increase the chances of a hereditary succession in Iran, many clerics view it as inconsistent with Iran’s revolutionary principles. I’m against it.

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Full report: Rescue teams search for crashed helicopter carrying president and foreign minister

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister crashed on a fog-shrouded mountainside, with search and rescue teams rushing to the scene as state media called for nationwide prayers.

State television reported that the helicopter was discovered after dark on Sunday evening, and officials said at least one passenger and one crew member had contacted rescue teams.

Still, details were sparse and sometimes contradictory, with Iranian Red Crescent rescue workers later announcing that the helicopter had not been found.

The Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, sought to reassure the public as information about the president’s life and death has not been made public.

He said Iranians had no need to worry or worry, adding: “There will be no turmoil in Iran’s national politics.”

However, an Iranian official earlier told Reuters that the lives of Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian, who was accompanying him, “are in danger due to the helicopter crash.” They added: “While we are still hopeful, the information coming out of the crash site is very worrying.”

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Opening overview

Hello. Welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the search for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after the helicopter crash.

The Iranian leader was traveling in the mountainous region of East Azerbaijan province with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian when the accident occurred, after visiting neighboring Azerbaijan to work on the opening of a dam.

Iranian state media blamed bad weather for the crash, which media initially described as a “hard landing” and said conditions were complicating rescue efforts.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the helicopter was spotted.

Key developments include:

  • Iranian state television reported that the helicopter was found by search teams. There was no update on the status of the passengers and crew. However, the Iranian Red Crescent later denied the state TV report. The helicopter’s location is still unknown.

  • The incident involved a convoy of three vehicles and a helicopter, and Iranian state television reported it as an accident.

  • An unnamed Iranian official told Reuters that the “crash” occurred while passing through mountainous terrain in dense fog and that the lives of the president and foreign minister were “in danger.”

  • An anonymous Iranian official told state media there had been several contacts with passengers and crew, but there were no further updates.

Rescue teams in Barzakan, East Azerbaijan province, where a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed. Photo: Ajin Haghighi/Reuters
  • Three rescue workers who were searching for the crashed helicopter were reported missing by the Red Crescent Society, but they were later clarified. A spokeswoman said search and rescue operations would slow as the weather was expected to soon become “bitter and cold” with more rain expected. Other media reported that the rain had turned to snow.

  • Raisi was traveling to Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State television said the area where the helicopter incident occurred was near the city of Jolfa on the border with Azerbaijan. The president had traveled to Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate the dam with the country’s President Ilham Aliyev. This dam is the third dam built by both countries on the Aras River.

  • Iranian army chief of staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said all military resources would be used in search and rescue operations, state television reported. Bagheri said military personnel had sent a team to the area, along with the Revolutionary Guards and police.

  • Iraq has instructed its Ministry of Interior, the Iraqi Red Crescent and other relevant agencies to offer assistance to neighbouring Iran and aid in the search. Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have also offered to help.

  • Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, sought to reassure Iranians by saying there would be no turmoil in the country’s affairs.

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