On 16 February 2021 a facebook post was shared by the account ሰይፈ ሳሚ (a personal blog with over 3,940 followers) sharing the image below with the claim that a helicopter of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) was shot down by Tigrian forces around Mekelle. The text which is written in Amharic reads “....a battle in Adi Keih, 30km south of Mekelle was finalised with the victory by the Tigray Defense Force. Out of the four helicopters [of the Ethiopian Air Force] that took part in the battle only two skipped shooting (the two were shot down…” The post went viral on facebook and more than 314 accounts have shared it. However, Haqcheck interrogated the case and confirmed that the picture doesn’t show a helicopter of the Ethiopian Air Force shot down by Tigray special police force in Adi Keih, around Mekelle, and rated it FALSE due to the usage of an inaccurate image to support the claim.
Since 4 November 2020 there has been armed fighting between the TPLF-led regional forces and Federal government-led forces in Tigray. The federal government has controlled the regional capital city, Mekelle on 28 November 2020. It has also recently announced that it was rapidly capturing senior civil and military officers of the TPLF. Some of the senior civil and military leaders of the TPLF-led force have also been arrested. But instabilities remain in the region during the post-conflict period. But, there have been unproven reports and speculations of fresh armed fighting in the heartland areas of Tigray, Tenben, Eerie, Tekeze and surroundings.
It is in this context that the post was shared by the user making strong allegations that helicopters were shot by TPLF-led forces during the claimed recent conflict in Adi Keih, Tigray. However a reverse image search of the picture used in the post doesn’t prove the claim. The image was first published on 10 January 2021 on the website of Radio Tamazuj, a South Sudan broadcaster. The image shows a military helicopter Mi 17 crashed in Cueibet, a town in South Sudan and 11 people were injured. The original post can be accessed with the following link.
Granted, there are claims of fresh battles between forces in Tigray while the government announced the war is over and is hunting TPLF criminal cliques. However, HaqCheck has interrogated the post and confirmed that the image doesn't show a military helicopter of the Ethiopian Army shot down by Tigray forces in Adi Keih recently and therefore rated it as FALSE due to the usage of an inaccurate image.
Fact Checked by: Hagos Gebreamlak
Edited by: Bruck Negash Teame
The following article is part of HaqCheck, Addis Zeybe’s multilingual fact checking running in five languages (Affan Oromo, Amharic, Somali, Tigrinya and English)