Iran's Armed Forces downplay role of Turkish drone in finding President's crash site

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Rescue team works following a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, in Varzaqan

DUBAI (Reuters) - The General Staff of Iran's Armed Forces on Wednesday downplayed the role played by a Turkish drone in finding the crash site of President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter, highlighting instead the performance of its own drones.

Early on Monday, Turkey's Anadolu Agency reported that a Turkish Akinci drone had identified "a source of heat suspected to be wreckage of the helicopter carrying President Raisi" and shared its coordinates with Iranian authorities.

"Despite Turkey sending a drone equipped with night vision and thermal cameras, the drone failed to accurately locate the crash site due to its lack of detection equipment and control points below the cloud," Iran's military said in a statement, referring to the adverse weather conditions believed to be the cause of the crash.

Both Iran and Turkey have a large drone arsenal and have focused on showcasing the effectiveness of their drones for export markets. Western powers have accused Iran of providing drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine.

While sources have told Reuters Iranian drones are also being used by Sudan's army in its war against the Rapid Support Forces. Tehran has rejected such claims.

Iran's Armed Forces said they were not able to immediately deploy their own advanced drones, equipped with synthetic-aperture radar, as they were located in the northern part of the Indian Ocean at the time.

The crash site, where the bodies of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian alongside other officials were recovered, was eventually found on Monday morning by Iranian ground rescue forces and by drones recalled from the Indian Ocean, according to the statement.

Iran's official news agency IRNA added that the coordinates shared by the Turkish drones were off by 7 km (4 miles).

Iran's military said it had chosen Turkey among "friendly countries" to help in the rescue mission due to its proximity to the accident site in the northwest of the country.

(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Sharon Singleton)