Iran President had lot of blood on his hands — White House

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had a “lot of blood on his hands”, the White House said on Monday despite Washington offering condolences after his death in a helicopter crash.

“This was a man who had a lot of blood on his hands,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, saying Raisi was responsible for “atrocious” rights abuses in Iran and had supported regional proxies including Hamas.

Kirby said, however, that “as in any other case, we certainly regret in general the loss of life and offered official condolences as appropriate.”

Meanwhile, Iran announced Monday it will hold presidential elections on June 28, state media reported, following the death of Raisi and his entourage in a helicopter crash.

“The election calendar was approved at the meeting of the heads of the judiciary, government, and parliament,” state television said. “According to the initial agreement of the Guardian Council, it was decided that the 14th presidential election will be held on June 28.”

Iranians began mourning Raisi whose helicopter crashed into a fog-shrouded mountain, setting off a period of political uncertainty in the Islamic republic.

Raisi, 63, his foreign minister and seven others died when the aircraft went down on Sunday in a remote area of northwestern Iran, where the wreckage was only found on Monday morning.

The ultraconservative Raisi had been in office since 2021, a turbulent time during which Iran was rocked by mass protests, an economic crisis deepened by US sanctions, and armed exchanges with arch-enemy Israel.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields ultimate power in Iran, declared five days of mourning and said vice president Mohammad Mokhber, 68, would assume interim presidential duties until elections are held within 50 days.

“The Iranian nation has lost a sincere and valuable servant,” said 85-year-old Khamenei, whom Raisi had been expected by many observers to one day succeed.

Thousands of mourners massed in central Tehran’s Valiasr Square to pay their respects to Raisi and to Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Funeral rites were set to start Tuesday in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan province, for them and the other victims — three crew, two bodyguards, an imam and a provincial governor — before Raisi’s body was to be taken to Tehran.

A funeral procession will take place in the capital on Wednesday morning.

Iran’s military chief of staff Mohammad Bagheri ordered “a high-ranking committee to launch an investigation into the cause of the president’s helicopter crash”.

Source: AFP

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