The footage circulated in 2019 in reports about spectators at a military performance in Russia

Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved.

A video of people watching weapons being fired has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Weibo posts that claim it shows live gunfire between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the ongoing 2020 military conflict. The claim is false; the footage circulated in 2019 in reports about spectators at a military performance in Russia. 

The video was published on Twitter here on October 12, 2020. It has been viewed more than 23,000 times since.

Screenshot captured on October 14, 2020, of the misleading tweet

The post’s simplified Chinese caption translates to English as: “Armenian and Azerbaijani exchanged fire again / Civilians are spectators / Watching artillery fire as fireworks”. 

The post circulated as Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continue to clash over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, as reported by AFP here.

The footage was also shared alongside similar claims on Twitter here, here and here; on Facebook here, here and here; on Weibo here, here and here; and on YouTube here.

The claim, however, is false.

A reverse image search of keyframes extracted from the video found that the same footage was published on YouTube here on November 17, 2019, almost a year before the hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan began in 2020. 

The video’s Serbian headline states the video was filmed in Russia.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the misleading Twitter video (L) and the YouTube video (R):

Screenshot comparison of the misleading Twitter video (L) and the YouTube video (R)

The same YouTube video was also embedded in this article by Russia Beyond, a Russian government-owned multilingual publication, on November 17, 2019.

Screenshot of the Russia Beyond article

The article’s Serbian headline translates to English as: “Russia: Children and their parents attended the platoon strike from VBR ‘Grad’ and ‘Uragan’”.

The first paragraph of the article reads: “On the occasion of the Day of Missile Forces and Artillery (RViA), the crews of a large number of artillery and missile systems presented their combat capabilities to the citizens.”

The footage was also published here in November 2019 on the Arabic YouTube channel of the CCTV, a Chinese government-run media outlet.

The same false claim was also fact-checked by Weibo and Chinese state media site fjsen.com. AFP fact-checked the video in Arabic here.