'Butcher of Tehran' dies in helicopter crash

Iran declared five days of public mourning after the sudden passing of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash near Azerbaijan. He previously condemned thousands of political dissidents to death.

'Butcher of Tehran' dies in helicopter crash
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
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The "Butcher of Tehran" has died in a helicopter crash near the Azerbaijan border, state media reported on Monday.

Among the deceased include Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who condemned thousands of political dissidents to death over the past several decades.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and six other crew members also perished in the crash Sunday evening, likely caused by poor weather. The charred wreckage of the U.S.-made Bell 212 helicopter was found early Monday morning, Reuters reports

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed condolences and declared five days of public mourning. Meanwhile, social media sites were flooded with images of Iranians celebrating Raisi's death. 

The United Nations held a moment of silence for Raisi, a vocal Holocaust denier. Israel, a frequent target of Iranian-linked terror, condemned the tribute.

The incident further escalates tensions in the long-standing conflict between Iran and Israel, which broke into open conflict last month with exchanges of drone and missile fire.

United States Deputy Secretary of State to the UN, Robert Wood participated in the Remembrance ritual for Raisi, who called for "death to the United States."

According to Turkish Transport Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu, the butcher's downed helicopter "did not have its signal system turned on or did not possess such a system." Iran requested Turkish assistance to track its location late Sunday evening, as it hosts an emergency research coordination centre for aviation accidents.

"We checked for a signal from the helicopter, but unfortunately, most likely the signal system was turned off or that the helicopter did not have that signal system, we could not detect them," he told reporters.

An undisclosed ministry official could not confirm if the helicopter had an up-to-date signal system or if it was turned off purposefully. 

Khamenei announced First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber would take over as interim president. Under the Islamic Republic's constitution, a new presidential election must be held within 50 days.

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