Old video from Syria falsely linked with helicopter crash that killed Indian military chief
A video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in social media posts that claim it shows a helicopter crash in India that killed India's defence chief General Bipin Rawat and twelve others on December 8, 2021. The video has been shared in a false context: it has circulated in reports since 2020 about Syrian rebels downing a government military chopper in eastern Idlib.
The video was shared here on YouTube on December 8, 2021. It has been viewed more than 660,000 times.
The video's title reads: "Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat Live Chopper Crash Video".
It shows a burning helicopter falling through the sky before it breaks up into pieces.
Bipin Rawat, India's first chief of defence staff, was travelling with his wife and other senior officers in a Russian-made Mi-17 chopper, which crashed near its destination in southern Tamil Nadu state.
The crash killed 13 people onboard, AFP reported.
However, the video has been shared in a false context.
A reverse image search of the keyframes of the viral video found an article by the Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) here that included a frame from the same video.
The article published on February 12, 2020 is about Turkey's counter-offensive against the Syrian Arab Armed Forces.
It mentions an attack on a Syrian helicopter by the Turkish-backed rebels.
The image's caption reads: "A Mi-17 helicopter was shot down by the armed opposition around al-Neirab."
Below is a comparison of the screenshot of the viral video at the one-minute six-second mark (L) and the image posted by EDAM (R).
A keyword search found the video was previously shared here on Twitter on February 11, 2020 -- more than a year before the crash that killed India's defence chief Bipin Rawat.
The caption of the 2020 video says, "An hour ago, this Mi-17 utility helicopter of #Syria Arab Air Force was shot-down over Al-Nayrab, #Idlib. #AlQaeda affiliated & #Turkish backed militias are trying to take responsibility, but it is certainly known that #Turkey targeted this helicopter."
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video with the false claim (L) and the 2020 video (R).
A further search on YouTube found a video report by the Associated Press here showing corresponding footage.
The video's description reads: "Syrian rebels claim to have shot down a government helicopter Tuesday in the country's northwest where Syrian troops are on the offensive in the last rebel stronghold, opposition activists said. (Feb. 11)".
AFP previously fact-checked the video after it went viral with the claim that it shows an Ethiopian military helicopter being shot down by Tigrayan rebels on November 11, 2021.