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No: The image doesn’t show  that Lalibela is captured by Government forces

Avatar: Rehobot Ayalew
Rehobot AyalewNovember 24, 2021
HAQCHECK
No: The image doesn’t show  that Lalibela is captured by Government forces

Various claims circulating since Nov. 23 about the recapturing of Lalibela by Government forces, grabbed our attention. Some of the claims are supported with a picture of a soldier in the uniform of the Amhara Special Force sitting beside one of the famous Lalibela churches ‘Biete Giyorgis’.

However, HaqCheck has looked into the image and rated it as FALSE.

Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) forces and the Federal Government of Ethiopia have been in an active war in northern Ethiopia since November 2020.  At the end of June 2021, the Federal Government declared a sudden unilateral ceasefire and pulled out its troops from Tigray after a request from the Provisional Government of the region.

Thereafter, the TPLF forces had been advancing southward towards territories in the Amhara and the Afar Regional States. On August 5, 2021, TPLF forces took control of the town of Lalibela in the North Wollo zone of the Amhara regional state. 

Reports of fresh military offensives and counter-offensives have come out recently. On Nov 22, prime minister Abiy Ahmed announced he is joining the war saying, “From now on, I will march on the battlefield from tomorrow onwards to lead the defense.”

Following the Prime Minister's statement of leading the war directly from the battlefronts, different posts and claims of victory started to proliferate on social media. And this post is published in this context.

However, while monitoring the claims HaqCheck was able to find out that the image used in the recent claims is actually old. The image was previously posted by a Facebook account by the name Wubetu Yigezawu on Apr. 29. The Amharic caption of the image reads, “The temples of St. Lalibela are being heavily guarded by the Amhara Special Forces”

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HaqCheck also noticed that there has not been an official announcement regarding control of the holy city from both sides until this article was published. We will continue our follow-up effort to confirm from officials and will update the public when there is any.
However, despite the rumors on social media that Government forces have recaptured the town of Lalibela, HaqCheck confirmed that the image doesn’t support the claim and rated it as FALSE.

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A PIECE BYRehobot Ayalew

Rehobot is a lead fact-checker at Addis Zeybe for HaqCheck. He is a professional who works in fact-checking and media literacy.