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US Had No Part To Play In Raisi’s Crash — Defense Secretary

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pre-emptively denied any US role in the crash and said there was no reason to think it was anything other than an accident.


U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin holds a media briefing at the Pentagon on October 27, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/AFP
FILE PHOTO: US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

The United States on Monday offered condolences after the president of arch-enemy Iran died in a helicopter crash and said it saw no immediate security impact from Ebrahim Raisi’s death.

“The United States expresses its official condolences for the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and other members of their delegation in a helicopter crash in northwest Iran,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

“As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said.

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pre-emptively denied any US role in the crash and said there was no reason to think it was anything other than an accident.

“The United States had no part to play in that crash. That’s a fact, plain and simple,” he told reporters.

“It could be a number of things — mechanical failure, pilot error, you name it,” he said.

“We continue to monitor the situation but we don’t have any insights into the cause of the accident,” he said.

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A handout picture of Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi and Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (right)(Photos by ATTA KENARE / AFP/ Iranian Presidency.)

Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian and seven others died when their helicopter went down in a foggy, remote area of northwestern Iran on Sunday.

Iran’s military ordered an investigation. Iran in the past has often blamed the United States and Israel for security issues, and just last month had its most open military clash ever with Israel.

Austin indicated that US forces have not changed their posture after the crash in the longtime adversary, where decisions are ultimately made by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“I don’t necessarily see any broader regional security impact,” Austin said.

The decision to offer condolences will likely meet criticism among hawkish critics of President Joe Biden’s foreign policy, although the State Department has routinely offered condolence statements for leaders from adversaries.

AFP