Iran Ready to Supply Wheat to Lebanon, Lebanese President Cites Iranian FM

President Aoun holds talks with Amirabdollahian at the Baabda presidential palace. (Dalati & Nohra)
President Aoun holds talks with Amirabdollahian at the Baabda presidential palace. (Dalati & Nohra)
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Iran Ready to Supply Wheat to Lebanon, Lebanese President Cites Iranian FM

President Aoun holds talks with Amirabdollahian at the Baabda presidential palace. (Dalati & Nohra)
President Aoun holds talks with Amirabdollahian at the Baabda presidential palace. (Dalati & Nohra)

Lebanese President Michel Aoun tweeted on Friday that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian assured him after their meeting in Beirut that Iran was ready to support Lebanon in all fields, "most notably in the provision of wheat".

Lebanon bought the bulk of its wheat from Ukraine until Russia's invasion, and the World Bank has warned it is one of a number of developing countries that face near-term supply shortages as a result.

Seeking to diversify its supplies, Lebanon's economy minister told Reuters this week Beirut is planning a tender to import 50,000 tons of wheat from India, but the timing depends on the central bank opening the necessary credit line.

Iran itself needs to import around 8 million tons of wheat after its crop last summer was damaged by the worst drought in 50 years, Reuters reported in October.

But Western sanctions continue to make payment difficult, although food shipments are still possible, traders said.



US Says it Was 'Unable' to Provide Iran Assistance after Helicopter Crash

People pray for President Ebrahim Raisi in a ceremony at Vali-e-Asr square in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. © Vahid Salemi, AP
People pray for President Ebrahim Raisi in a ceremony at Vali-e-Asr square in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. © Vahid Salemi, AP
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US Says it Was 'Unable' to Provide Iran Assistance after Helicopter Crash

People pray for President Ebrahim Raisi in a ceremony at Vali-e-Asr square in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. © Vahid Salemi, AP
People pray for President Ebrahim Raisi in a ceremony at Vali-e-Asr square in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. © Vahid Salemi, AP

The United States on Monday said it had been unable, due largely to logistical reasons, to accept an Iranian request for assistance following a helicopter crash over the weekend that killed President Ebrahim Raisi, as Washington offered its condolences.

The rare request from Iran, which views the United States and Israel as its main adversaries, was disclosed by the State Department at a news briefing.

"We were asked for assistance by the Iranian government. We did make clear to them that we would offer assistance, as we would do in response to any request by a foreign government in this sort of situation," spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.

"Ultimately, largely for logistical reasons, we were unable to provide that assistance," Miller said, without elaborating, Reuters reported.

The charred wreckage of the helicopter which crashed on Sunday carrying Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and six other passengers and crew, was found early on Monday after an overnight search in blizzard conditions.

Asked whether he was concerned that Tehran might blame Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said: "The United States had no part to play in that crash."

"I can't speculate on what may have been the cause," he added.

Still, Austin played down any US concerns that the crash might have immediate security implications in the Middle East.

"I don't necessarily see any broader, regional security impact at this point," he said.


UN Security Council Rejects Russia-backed Resolution on Banning Weapons in Space

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia attends a meeting on Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with members of the U.N. Security Council , Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia attends a meeting on Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with members of the U.N. Security Council , Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
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UN Security Council Rejects Russia-backed Resolution on Banning Weapons in Space

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia attends a meeting on Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with members of the U.N. Security Council , Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia attends a meeting on Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with members of the U.N. Security Council , Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

The United States said Monday that Russia last week launched a satellite that could be part of weaponizing space, a possible future global trend that members of the United Nations Security Council condemned even as they failed to pass a measure against it.

The Security Council resolution drafted by Russia rivaled one backed by the US and Japan that failed last month. The rival drafts focused on different types of weapons, with the US and Japan specifying weapons of mass destruction. The Russian draft discussed all types of weapons.

The US and its allies said the language that the 15-member council debated on Monday was simply meant to distract the world from Russia's true intention: weaponizing space.

“The culmination of Russia’s campaign of diplomatic gaslighting and dissembling is the text before us today," US deputy ambassador Robert Wood told the council, according to The AP.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, denied that his nation was trying to mislead the world. Backed by China and others, he called the vote “a unique moment of truth for our Western colleagues.”

“If they fail to support this, then they will clearly show that their main priority remains keeping freedom of the way for themselves to expedite the militarization of outer space," Nebenzia said.

Every nation says it wants weapons barred from space, and council members repeated that Monday. But when it came time to vote, the council evenly split 7-7 between backers of the US and of Russia, with Switzerland abstaining. The measure failed under UN rules because it didn't receive nine votes.

“We have this negative, squabbling attitude among leading space powers that seem more interested in scoring points off their adversaries rather than engaging in constructive dialogue,” said Paul Meyer, Canada’s former ambassador for disarmament and a fellow at the Vancouver-based Outer Space Institute.

Since before humans left the Earth, the world’s most powerful nations have worried about their enemies using outer space to attack them .

The Soviet Union and the United States sent men into space in 1961. Six years later, the Soviets, the US and the United Kingdom signed a treaty declaring outer space a global commons that could be used for only peaceful purposes.

Even though nations could not wage war without the space-based communications, reconnaissance and weather tools that satellites and spacecraft provide, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty requires them to keep their weapons on Earth.

“You realize what an important conflict-prevention measure that was,” Meyer said.

It’s become even more important, he said, as a growing number of nations have moved into space. About a dozen have the capacity to launch spacecraft, and about 80 have their own satellites, not to mention the private companies with assets in orbit.

All of that could be at risk if a conflict in space causes an explosion and shrapnel, which could disable the vital systems that millions of people around the world depend on.

“A lot of people have a stake in being able to operate in space safely and securely,” Meyer said.

The US has gathered highly sensitive intelligence about Russian anti-satellite weapons that has been shared with the upper echelons of government, four people who had been briefed on the intelligence said in February. The people, who were not authorized to comment publicly, said the capability was not yet operational.


North Korea's Kim Sends Condolence Message to Iran

This picture taken on December 27, 2022 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on December 28, 2022 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un giving a report on the second day of the 6th expanded plenary session of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, at the Party Central Committee headquarters in Pyongyang. (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)
This picture taken on December 27, 2022 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on December 28, 2022 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un giving a report on the second day of the 6th expanded plenary session of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, at the Party Central Committee headquarters in Pyongyang. (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)
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North Korea's Kim Sends Condolence Message to Iran

This picture taken on December 27, 2022 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on December 28, 2022 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un giving a report on the second day of the 6th expanded plenary session of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, at the Party Central Committee headquarters in Pyongyang. (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)
This picture taken on December 27, 2022 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on December 28, 2022 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un giving a report on the second day of the 6th expanded plenary session of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, at the Party Central Committee headquarters in Pyongyang. (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent a condolence message to Iran over the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash, state media KCNA said on Tuesday.

In the message, Kim said the death of Raisi was a "great loss" to Iran and he hoped the bereaved families would recover as soon as possible.

He was "an outstanding statesman and a close friend" who made a "great contribution to the cause of the Iranian people for safeguarding the sovereignty, development and interests of their country and the gains of the Islamic revolution," Kim was quoted as saying by KCNA, Reuters reported.

North Korea and Iran have close ties and are suspected of having cooperated on ballistic missile programs, possibly exchanging technical expertise.

 

 

 


Iran to Hold Raisi's Funeral Procession On Wednesday In Tehran

Iranian authorities announced Monday that the funeral procession for President Ebrahim Raisi - (photo by Reuters)
Iranian authorities announced Monday that the funeral procession for President Ebrahim Raisi - (photo by Reuters)
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Iran to Hold Raisi's Funeral Procession On Wednesday In Tehran

Iranian authorities announced Monday that the funeral procession for President Ebrahim Raisi - (photo by Reuters)
Iranian authorities announced Monday that the funeral procession for President Ebrahim Raisi - (photo by Reuters)

Iranian authorities announced Monday that the funeral procession for President Ebrahim Raisi would be held in Tehran Wednesday, following his death in a helicopter crash.

"On Wednesday morning, we will have the funeral procession in the city of Tehran" for Raisi and other members of his entourage killed in the crash, Mohsen Mansouri, vice president for executive affairs told state television.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei quickly named a vice president as caretaker and insisted the government was in control.

In Tehran, Iran’s capital, businesses were open and children attended school Monday. However, there was a noticeable presence of both uniformed and plainclothes security forces, The AP reported.

Later in the day, hundreds of mourners crowded into downtown Vali-e-Asr square holding posters of Raisi and waving Palestinian flags. Some men clutched prayer beads and were visibly crying. Women wearing black chadors gathered together holding photos of the dead leader.

“We were shocked that we lost such a character, a character that made Iran proud, and humiliated the enemies,” said Mohammad Beheshti, 36

A hard-liner who formerly led the country’s judiciary, Raisi, 63, was viewed as a protege of Khamenei. During his tenure, relations continued to deteriorate with the West as Iran enriched uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels and supplied bomb-carrying drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine.

The crash killed all eight people aboard a Bell 212 helicopter that Iran purchased in the early 2000s, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. Among the dead were Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, a senior cleric from Tabriz, a Revolutionary Guard official and three crew members, IRNA said.


Biden Says Request for War Crimes Arrest Warrant for Israeli Leaders Is ‘Outrageous’

US President Joe Biden delivers a commencement address during Morehouse College's graduation ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden delivers a commencement address during Morehouse College's graduation ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
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Biden Says Request for War Crimes Arrest Warrant for Israeli Leaders Is ‘Outrageous’

US President Joe Biden delivers a commencement address during Morehouse College's graduation ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden delivers a commencement address during Morehouse College's graduation ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia on May 19, 2024. (AFP)

President Joe Biden on Monday condemned as “outrageous” an attempt by the chief prosecutor of the world’s top war crimes to seek arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with those of Hamas over actions taken during their seven-month war.

In a sharply worded statement, Biden rejected the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor's to seek the arrest of Netanyahu and Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant, saying “whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas."

“We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security,” Biden added.

The court’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, accused Netanyahu, Gallant, and three Hamas leaders — Yehia Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh — of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

A panel of three judges will decide whether to issue the arrest warrants and allow a case to proceed.


US Expresses Condolences for Death of Iranian President

Men hang a huge portrait of Iran's late President Ebrahim Raisi outside the Iranian embassy in Baghdad during a condolences service on May 20, 2024 for the president and his entourage, who were killed in a helicopter crash in Iran the previous day. (AFP)
Men hang a huge portrait of Iran's late President Ebrahim Raisi outside the Iranian embassy in Baghdad during a condolences service on May 20, 2024 for the president and his entourage, who were killed in a helicopter crash in Iran the previous day. (AFP)
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US Expresses Condolences for Death of Iranian President

Men hang a huge portrait of Iran's late President Ebrahim Raisi outside the Iranian embassy in Baghdad during a condolences service on May 20, 2024 for the president and his entourage, who were killed in a helicopter crash in Iran the previous day. (AFP)
Men hang a huge portrait of Iran's late President Ebrahim Raisi outside the Iranian embassy in Baghdad during a condolences service on May 20, 2024 for the president and his entourage, who were killed in a helicopter crash in Iran the previous day. (AFP)

The United States expressed its "official condolences" Monday for the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials in a helicopter crash, the State Department said.

"As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms," department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he did not have insight into the cause of the helicopter crash that killed Raisi, adding that he did not necessarily see any broader impact on regional security.

"I can't speculate on what may have been the cause," Austin told reporters. 


Cohen Acknowledges Stealing from Trump at Hush Money Trial

 Michael Cohen is cross examined by defense lawyer Todd Blanche during former US President Donald Trump's criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, US, May 20, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. (Reuters)
Michael Cohen is cross examined by defense lawyer Todd Blanche during former US President Donald Trump's criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, US, May 20, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. (Reuters)
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Cohen Acknowledges Stealing from Trump at Hush Money Trial

 Michael Cohen is cross examined by defense lawyer Todd Blanche during former US President Donald Trump's criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, US, May 20, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. (Reuters)
Michael Cohen is cross examined by defense lawyer Todd Blanche during former US President Donald Trump's criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, US, May 20, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. (Reuters)

Donald Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen testified on Monday that he stole money from Trump's company, an admission that could chip away at his credibility as a star witness at the former US president's hush money trial.

Questioned by Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche, Cohen acknowledged stealing from the Trump Organization by including a reimbursement to a technology company in his bonus package and pocketing most of the money.

"So you stole from the Trump Organization, right?" Blanche asked.

"Yes sir," Cohen, 57, testified.

Cohen said he paid roughly $20,000 of the $50,000 that Trump's company owed to the tech company in cash, handing it off in a brown paper bag at his office. He said he kept the rest. He was reimbursed $100,000 total by the Trump Organization for that payment.

Cohen is the final and most important witness for New York prosecutors as they seek to convince a jury that Trump broke the law by covering up a $130,000 payment that bought the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.

But as a convicted felon and admitted liar, Cohen is a problematic witness. Prosecutors have buttressed his testimony with documentary evidence, while Trump's lawyers have sought to undermine Cohen's credibility through his cross-examination.

After his testimony concludes, Trump's lawyers will have a chance to present evidence and witnesses of their own.

It was unclear whether Trump would take the witness stand. Defense lawyers often opt not to call witnesses or present their own evidence when they believe prosecutors have failed to make their case.

Though Trump said before the trial began that he planned to testify, Blanche told the judge last week that it was no longer certain. Outside the courtroom on Monday, Trump did not tell reporters whether he would testify or not.

CLOSING ARGUMENTS NEXT WEEK

At the outset of Monday's session, Justice Juan Merchan said he expected the prosecution and the defense to wrap up their presentations this week and make their closing arguments next week.

The first former president to face a criminal trial has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up the payment to Daniels, who had threatened to go public with her account of an alleged 2006 sexual encounter - a liaison Trump denies.

Outside the courtroom, Trump, 77, has blasted the trial as a politically motivated effort to hobble his attempt to take back the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election.

Inside the courtroom, Trump has sat at the defendant's table listening to Daniels tell her account of their time together in lurid detail. Other witnesses, including Cohen, have discussed efforts to bury unflattering stories at a time Trump faced multiple accusations of sexual misbehavior.

Trump's lawyers said last week they did not think they would need much time unless Trump opted to testify.

"That's another decision that we need to think through," Blanche said on Thursday, the last day the trial convened.

If he chooses to testify, Trump will have the opportunity to convince jurors that he was not responsible for the paperwork at the heart of the case, and rebut Daniels' detailed account of their meeting in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

He would not be restrained by a gag order that bars him in other settings from criticizing witnesses, jurors and relatives of the judge and prosecutors.

However, he would face cross-examination by prosecutors, who could try to expose inconsistencies in his story. Any lies told under oath could expose him to further criminal perjury charges.

Trump last appeared as a witness in a civil business-fraud trial last year, delivering defiant and rambling testimony that aggravated Justice Arthur Engoron, who was overseeing the case. Engoron would go on to order him to pay $355 million in penalties after finding he fraudulently overstated his net worth to dupe lenders.

The hush money trial is widely seen as the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions Trump faces, but it is likely the only one to go to trial before the election. Trump faces charges in Washington and Georgia of trying to overturn his 2020 loss to Biden and charges in Florida of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House in 2021. He has pleaded not guilty in all three cases.


Pro-Palestinian Protesters at Drexel Ignore Call to Disband as Arrests Nationwide Approach 3,000

Pro-Palestinian protesters set up an encampment at the University of Drexel campus as they rally to mark the Nakba anniversary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 18, 2024. (AFP)
Pro-Palestinian protesters set up an encampment at the University of Drexel campus as they rally to mark the Nakba anniversary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 18, 2024. (AFP)
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Pro-Palestinian Protesters at Drexel Ignore Call to Disband as Arrests Nationwide Approach 3,000

Pro-Palestinian protesters set up an encampment at the University of Drexel campus as they rally to mark the Nakba anniversary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 18, 2024. (AFP)
Pro-Palestinian protesters set up an encampment at the University of Drexel campus as they rally to mark the Nakba anniversary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 18, 2024. (AFP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters ignored a request by Drexel University's president to disband their encampment on Monday as arrests linked to campus demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war approached the 3,000 mark nationwide.

Drexel's campus remained on lockdown, with classes being held virtually as police kept watch over the demonstration on the school's Korman Quad. Many Drexel employees were told to work from home.

In a statement issued a day earlier, Drexel President John Fry said as many as 60 protesters were at the encampment, lambasting it as “intolerably disruptive to normal university operations." He said there were "serious concerns about the conduct of some participants, including distressing reports and images of protestors subjecting passersby to antisemitic speech, signs and chants.” Fry threatened disciplinary action against Drexel students participating in the protest.

The Drexel Palestine Coalition responded on Instagram late Sunday that “it is slander to accuse the encampment of ‘hateful’ or ‘intimidating' actions when we have done neither.” The group accused Drexel and city police of harassment and intimidation.

No arrests were reported.

Students and others have set up tent encampments on campuses around the country to press colleges to cut financial ties with Israel. Tensions over the war have been high on campuses since the fall but demonstrations spread quickly following an April 18 police crackdown on an encampment at Columbia University.

Nearly 3,000 people have been arrested on US campuses over the past month. As summer break approaches, there have been fewer new arrests and campuses have been calmer. Still, colleges have been vigilant for disruptions to commencement ceremonies.

The encampment at Drexel, which has about 22,000 students, was set up after several hundred demonstrators marched from Philadelphia’s City Hall to west Philadelphia on Saturday. Nearby, on the University of Pennsylvania campus, university and city police arrested 19 demonstrators Friday night, including six Penn students.

Elsewhere, dozens of George Washington University graduates walked out of commencement ceremonies at the base of the Washington Monument on Sunday, disrupting university President Ellen Granberg’s speech, while at Morehouse College in Atlanta, President Joe Biden told the graduating class that he heard the voices of protest, and had called for “an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and the return of hostages taken by Hamas.

Wesleyan University in Connecticut said it has reached agreement with student protesters to review possible divestment, with meetings scheduled for later this month and in the fall. Wesleyan President Michael Roth announced the deal over the weekend and disclosed that 1.7% of Wesleyan’s endowment was invested in aerospace and defense businesses, but that none were directly involved in the manufacture of weapons. He said protesters had agreed to clear their encampment on Monday.

The latest Israel-Hamas war began when Hamas and other gunmen stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking an additional 250 hostage. Palestinian militants still hold about 100 captives, while Israel’s military has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants.


What We Know So Far about the Helicopter Crash That Killed Iran’s President and Others

A woman mourns the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash at Valiasr Square in Tehran on May 20, 2024. (AFP)
A woman mourns the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash at Valiasr Square in Tehran on May 20, 2024. (AFP)
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What We Know So Far about the Helicopter Crash That Killed Iran’s President and Others

A woman mourns the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash at Valiasr Square in Tehran on May 20, 2024. (AFP)
A woman mourns the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash at Valiasr Square in Tehran on May 20, 2024. (AFP)

The helicopter crash that killed Iran’s president and foreign minister has sent shock waves around the region.

Iranian state media on Monday said that President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and others had been found dead after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest. State TV gave no immediate cause for the crash.

Here’s what we know so far.

WHO WAS ON BOARD AND WHERE WERE THEY GOING? The helicopter on Sunday was carrying Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

Raisi was returning after traveling to Iran’s border with Azerbaijan to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev when the crash occurred in the Dizmar forest in East Azerbaijan province.

IRNA said the crash killed eight people including three crew members aboard the Bell helicopter, which Iran purchased in the early 2000s.

HOW DID THE SEARCH OPERATION GO? Iranian officials said the mountainous, forested terrain and heavy fog impeded search-and-rescue operations, which continued overnight.

The president of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Pir-Hossein Koulivand, said Sunday evening that 40 search teams were on the ground despite “challenging weather conditions.” Because of the bad weather, it was "impossible to conduct aerial searches” via drones, Koulivand said, according to IRNA.

It was not until early Monday that officials announced the helicopter had been found and all of its occupants were dead.

HOW WAS THE CRASH SITE FOUND? Early Monday, 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 a helicopter.” The coordinates listed in the footage put the fire about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Azerbaijan-Iranian border on the side of a steep mountain.

Footage released by IRNA showed what the agency described as the crash site, across a steep valley in a mountain range. Soldiers speaking in the local Azeri language said: “There it is, we found it.” Shortly after that, state TV in an on-screen scrolling text said: “There is no sign of life from people on board.”

HOW WILL RAISI'S DEATH IMPACT IRAN? Raisi was seen as a protege to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and a potential successor for his position within the country’s Shiite theocracy.

Under the Iranian constitution, if a president dies, the country’s first vice president — in this case, Mohammad Mokhber — would become president. Khamenei has publicly assured Iranians that there would be “no disruption to the operations of the country” as a result of the crash.

WHAT HAS INTERNATIONAL REACTION BEEN? After news broke of the search operation, countries including Russia, Iraq and Qatar made statements of concern about Raisi’s fate and offered to assist in the search.

Azerbaijani President Aliyev offered any support necessary. Relations between the two countries have been chilly due to Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with Israel, Iran's regional arch-enemy.

There was no immediate official reaction from Israel. Last month, following an Israeli strike on an Iranian consular building in Damascus that killed two Iranian generals, Tehran launched hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel. They were mostly shot down and tensions have apparently subsided.

The US, which has its own history of tensions with Tehran, also has yet to comment publicly on Raisi’s death.


Ship that Caused Deadly Baltimore Bridge Collapse to Be Refloated and Moved

FILE PHOTO: View of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, US, April 4, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: View of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, US, April 4, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard/File Photo
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Ship that Caused Deadly Baltimore Bridge Collapse to Be Refloated and Moved

FILE PHOTO: View of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, US, April 4, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: View of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, US, April 4, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard/File Photo

The container ship that caused the deadly collapse of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge is scheduled to be refloated on Monday and moved to a nearby marine terminal.
The Dali has remained at the collapse site since it lost power and crashed into one of the bridge’s supporting columns on March 26, killing six construction workers and snarling traffic into Baltimore Harbor, The Associated Press said.
High tide Monday morning is expected to bring the best conditions for crews to start refloating and transit work on the ship, according to a statement from the Key Bridge Response Unified Command.
Up to five tugboats will escort the Dali on its 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) path to the marine terminal. The work is expected to last at least 21 hours.
Crews conducted a controlled demolition on May 13 to break down the largest remaining span of the collapsed bridge.
The Dali experienced four electrical blackouts within about 10 hours before leaving the Port of Baltimore for Sri Lanka and hitting the bridge, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.