These images of military tanks were taken in Iraq, not Myanmar

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Two images have been shared hundreds of times in multiple posts on Facebook alongside a claim they show Myanmar army tanks that were destroyed by the anti-coup rebels. The claim is false: the photos in fact show two different Iraqi military incidents in 1991 and 2013.

The photos were published here on Facebook on May 25, 2021. The post has been shared more than 760 times.

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on May 26, 2021

The post’s Burmese-languauge caption translates to English as: “Tanks from SaKaSa [State Administration Council of Myanmar] got attacked by PDF [People Defense Forces]. Honour our two fallen heroes from PDF”.

The People Defense Forces (PDF) was formed “to protect civilians, as the police and military deploy deadly arms against anti-coup protesters” in early May, 2021, according to an AFP report here.

The misleading posts circulated online after the Karenni People Defense Forces (KPDF) claimed its fighters had destroyed two tanks from the Myanmar military in Kayah State in Myanmar on May 25, 2021. The KPDF claimed its fighters were also killed in the attack in an update on Facebook published here.

But the Myanmar military told the media in an email on May 28, 2021 that their tanks had not been destroyed by the armed group.

The photos were also published alongside a similar claim on Facebook here, here, and here.

However, the claim is false.

A combined reverse image search and keyword search found the images actually show Iraqi tanks.

First photo

A Google reverse image search found the first image was published here by the Associated Press news agency on February 27, 1991.

The photo shows a damaged tank during the Gulf War, according to the caption.

The photo’s caption reads: “An Iraqi tank goes up in flames after being hit on Monday, Feb. 27, 1991 in Iraq, by a TOW missile fired form the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. (AP Photo/Tannen Maury)”.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (L) and AP’s photo (R):

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (L) and AP’s photo (R)

Here is a Britannica Encyclopedia timeline of events in the Gulf War, which ended in a ceasfire on February 28, 1991.

Second photo

Another Google reverse image search found the second image was published here on US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)’s website.

According to the photo’s description, it was taken on April 13, 2003 in Iraq.

The photo’s caption reads: “A destroyed Iraqi T-72 Main Battle Tank (MBT) lies along a road leading to Al Iskandariyah, Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM”.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (L) and the NARA’s photo (R) :

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (L) and the NARA’s photo

“Operation Iraqi Freedom” refers to an assault launched on March 20, 2003 by the US military and its allies on Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The regime fell five weeks later and Hussein was subsequently executed, as AFP reported here and here

The events were also described here on the US Naval History and Heritage Command website.

UPDATE: This article was updated on June 1, 2021 to add a denial from the Myanmar military.
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