On October 12, the Afghan National Police posted a video on Facebook that they said showed Afghan helicopters bombing Taliban positions in Helmand province.
The conflict between the Afghan Army and the Taliban in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan has been intensifying since October 9. Both sides are using social media to show off what they perceive to be their military successes. But it seems like the Afghan police were a little too quick to post one particular video that they said showed the army striking Taliban positions. Turns out this video shows, in reality, a training exercise carried out by the United States Marine Corps in Arizona, USA, in 2017.
The video, which was later picked up by numerous Afghan media outlets, was filmed in night vision mode and shows a helicopter bombing a compound. On the Facebook page of the Afghan National Police, the video garnered more than 20,000 views.
The Afghan National Police posted this video along with the caption “Last night, Helmand was turned into a cemetery for the Taliban”. The video picked up more than 20,000 views.
But, in reality, this video isn’t recent and it wasn’t filmed in Afghanistan. It was first posted on the “airalimages” YouTube channel back in April 2017 and the caption says it shows US Marine Corps engaging “targets during an urban close-air support exercise” in Yuma, Arizona, USA.
How can you find the original?
If you look closely at the video posted by the Afghan police, you can see a watermark at the bottom right-hand side of the video that says “Airalimages”.
I searched this name on YouTube and pulled up a channel that publishes military videos, most of them showing the US Army. Then, I looked through the archives of this channel for a video filmed with night vision and found the exact same video published by the Afghan police and several media outlets.
The conflict between the Afghan Army and the Taliban in Helmand Province has displaced at least 35,000 people. The United Nations reported that “several civilians were killed, including women and children” in recent fighting.
Despite an agreement with the United States government and ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha since September, the Taliban has refused to accept a ceasefire and are continuing their campaign in Afghanistan.