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Do the images show the Ethiopian Air Force burning down a warehouse of weapons in Afar?

Avatar: Rehobot Ayalew
Rehobot AyalewJuly 23, 2021
HAQCHECKFact checking
Do the images show the Ethiopian Air Force burning  down a warehouse of weapons in Afar?

A Facebook page with more than 42,000 followers posted two images with Amharic captions that read “Good Victory News for Ethiopians”. Posted on July 22, the story claimed that a trusted military source confirmed a warehouse with a large stockpile of weapons set up [by TPLF] to control Afar and Amhara regions burned down to ashes by FDRE Air Force. The Facebook story also claimed that the incident happened at a place around Kaluwa, the border of Afar and Amhara regions. The post has been shared more than 400 times in less than 24 hours.

HaqCheck looked into the post and rated it as False due to the usage of inaccurate images to support the claim.

On November 4, 2020, armed fighting started between TPLF-led regional and federal government-led forces in Tigray. In the ensuing conflict, the federal army has controlled major areas in Tigray, but there have been reports of active war and guerilla fighting across the region. The Federal government also announced it had captured and killed TPLF senior military and civil officials.

Late last month the Ethiopian government declared a sudden unilateral ceasefire for “humanitarian purposes” and immediately withdrew its forces from the mainlands of the regional state. As a reason for the withdrawal, the federal government mentioned a request from the Tigray Interim Administration. 

The TPLF-forces have been advancing southwards and southeast, moving out of the heartlands of Tigray. Recently armed clashes have been reported in border areas adjacent to Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regional states.

The Facebook post was circulating amid this situation.

However, a reverse image search of both the pictures shows that the images were taken at different times and are not actually related to the current situation around the regions. The first image that shows two helicopters firing was taken by Sergey Pivovarov, on September 20, 2019, while Russian mi-35 attack helicopters fire during military exercises. The original image is available on c Alamy, an online image stock. 

The second image showing an armed man and another man wearing what seems like an Ethiopian flag was actually taken by Paul Salopek. It is part of journalist Paul Salopek’s multiyear, “21,000-mile walk across the world in the footsteps of our forebears”, which was published on February 04, 2013. The image can be found on the National Geographic website.

First image

Second image

HaqCheck also could not find any official report from the Air force or other media outlets regarding the situation.

Even though there have been reports of fresh armed conflicts in the areas that border the Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions, HaqCheck confirmed that the images do not show an incident where the Ethiopian Air Force is destroying a warehouse of weapons in Afar. Therefore we rated the post as FALSE due to the usage of inaccurate images to support the claim.

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A PIECE BYRehobot Ayalew

Rehobot is an enthusiastic, proactive & ethical young woman, who is a lead fact-checker at HaqCheck, Addis Zeybe & its CSO partner Inform Africa. She is a graduate of Economics from Ambo University. She loves volunteering in community services & aspires to make the world a better place in whatever she does.