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Says US That Iran Requested Assistance Following Ebrahim Raisi's Chopper Crash

Photo-AFP

Washington announced on Monday that Iran, despite being a long-time adversary, sought assistance from the United States following a helicopter crash that claimed the life of President Ebrahim Raisi. The crash occurred in foggy weather on Sunday, also killing Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and seven others. The State Department confirmed that Iran, which has had no diplomatic relations with the US since the 1979 Islamic revolution, reached out for help.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller revealed that the Iranian government requested assistance, to which the US responded positively, stating their willingness to assist any government in such a situation. However, logistical issues prevented the US from providing the needed help. Miller did not elaborate on the specifics of the communication but indicated that Iran was seeking immediate support to locate the crashed helicopter.

This tragic event happened shortly after reports of quiet talks between the US and Iran in Oman, aimed at reducing regional tensions following clashes between Iran and Israel. Despite the deep-seated animosity, the State Department offered "official condolences" for the loss of life. The Biden administration clarified that this gesture was standard protocol and did not signify support for Raisi, who has a controversial history involving mass executions of political prisoners and suppression of protests.

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National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterated that Raisi had "blood on his hands" due to his record of human rights abuses. However, he emphasized that the US regretted the loss of life in general and thus extended official condolences.

Historically, the US has occasionally offered condolences to adversaries, with messages sent over the deaths of leaders like Joseph Stalin, Kim Il Sung, and Fidel Castro. This condolence message, along with similar ones from European nations, sparked anger among opponents of the Iranian regime, who viewed Raisi's death as a positive turn of events. Women's rights activist Masih Alinejad criticized the US's condolences, stating they aggravated the pain of the oppressed.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noted that US forces had not altered their posture following the crash. He emphasized that the US had no involvement in the incident and suggested it could have been due to various factors such as mechanical failure or pilot error. The Iranian military has initiated an investigation, although it often attributes such incidents to Israeli or American actions.

Former Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attributed the crash to ongoing US sanctions that have hindered the sale of aviation parts. In response, Miller pointed out that the decision to operate a 45-year-old helicopter in poor weather conditions was the responsibility of the Iranian government.

May 21, 2024 10:14 a.m. 560

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