This video shows protesters attacking a joint Turkish-Russian patrol in northern Syria

A video viewed thousands of times has been shared in multiple Facebook posts alongside claims that the footage shows US troops being pelted with stones in Iraq. But this claim is false; the footage was actually filmed in northern Syria and shows protesters attacking a joint Turkish-Russian patrol.

The video was notably shared on this Facebook page, which has more than 80,000 followers. It has been viewed over 13,000 times since it was posted on January 7, 2020.

The caption reads: “Video of Iraq citizens stonning [sic] U.S Army caravan in Iraq.”

Screenshot taken on January 20, 2020 of Facebook post claiming to show video of US troops being pelted with stones in Iraq

The same video was posted alongside the same claim in several other Facebook posts, like here and here.

The logo on the video belongs to the Russian international television network RT (formerly known as Russia Today). 

Using the digital verification tool InVID, we extracted keyframes and ran a reverse image search on the Yandex search engine. This led us to find the same video (in higher quality, and slightly longer) on RT Arabic’s official YouTube page. The title, in Arabic, reads “The residents of Al-Malikiyah throw stones at Turkish patrols,” and the caption mentions that this is a Turkish-Russian joint patrol. Al-Malikiyah is a city in northern Syria.

Last November, during the same week RT published this video, AFP reported that a Turkish-Russian military patrol was pelted with stones by angry protesters in northern Syria.

By typing different keywords into YouTube (like “Turkish,” “Russian,” “Syria” and “stones”), we found other videos from the same protest, including a CBS Evening News report titled “Kurds protest Turkish and Russian forces in Syria”. The report features CBS foreign correspondent Charlie d’Agata reporting on the ground in northern Syria.

A closer look at CBS report shows that it matches the location of the RT video.

First, there is a cemetery along the roadside in both videos. In the first clip, the graves are visible starting at 1'10'', while in the CBS report, they appear at 1'16''.

Screenshots taken on January 20, 2020 of two videos showing the cemetery. The picture on the left is from the post claiming to display attack on US troops in Iraq while the one on the right is the CBS report

In both videos, you can see an identical tree in the cemetery, as shown below.

Screenshots taken on January 20, 2020 of two videos showing the tree. The picture on the left is from the misleading post while the one on the right is the CBS report

At one point, the two videos also share the exact same shot showing a man dressed in beige trousers and a white shirt throwing a projectile at the passing vehicles. The camera then pans out to reveal a boy dressed all in red and a girl in a white shirt and black pants, who are also throwing projectiles.

Screenshots taken on January 20, 2020 of two videos showing a man throwing a projectile at the passing vehicles. The picture on the left is from the misleading post while the one on the right is the CBS report

In October 2019, Turkey and Russia agreed to patrol a strip of land in northern Syria in a bid to remove the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia to beyond 30 kilometres from the Turkish border. The deal brokered between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin can be found here.

Why was this deal made?

The Turkish government considers the YPG to be a terror group due to its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody campaign against the Turkish state since 1984. Ankara and Moscow struck the deal after the United States’ abrupt withdrawal of 1,000 US troops from northern Syria in October 2019.

Mary Kulundu