No, Iranian tourists didn't go to watch a skirmish between Armenia and Azerbaijan
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Thousands of people took to social media in October to share an amateur video that they believed showed Iranian tourists standing at the summit of a mountain watching exchanges of rocket fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia, who are locked in conflict over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh. But actually, the video shows a military exercise staged by the Russian army in November 2019.
This video was posted by an English-speaking blogger on Twitter and shared on a Spanish-language page on Facebook that claims to be a news site. Together, the two publications of the video garnered more than 200,000 views and were shared more than 6,000 times in total. Both of these posts claim that the video shows Iranian tourists who travelled to the border that they share with the two warring parties to watch them exchange rocket fire. The Azeri and Armenian armed forces have been clashing in Nagorno-Karabakh since September 27, 2020.
Iranians stood on the top of the mountain and watched the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia launching rockets at each other as if watching some cracker show.#RenukaJain (@RenukaJain6) October 21, 2020
Both countries have borders with Iran. pic.twitter.com/LJJkMGpolV
'Iranians stood on the top of the mountain and watched the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia launching rockets at each other as if watching some cracker show. Both countries have borders with Iran,' reads the caption in English on this video that was posted on Twitter on October 21 and that garnered more than 80,000 views.
''[A scene] that attracts tourists: people go to the summit of a mountain to watch the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia,' reads this post, in Spanish, which was posted on October 10 and shared more than 6,000 times.
Why it’s false
The first clue to the real origin of the video comes at four seconds in, when you see a man wearing a jacket emblazoned with the word “Russia”.
We took a screengrab 10 seconds into the video and ran it through a reverse image search on the Russian search engine Yandex (see our article to find out how). When we did that, we pulled up a previous publication of the same video, posted on YouTube on November 27, 2019 with a caption in Russian that says "BM-21 GRAD - Rapid Fire’’, which is a type of rocket.
The Indian fact-checking platform Altnews said this video was filmed during an exercise commemorating the Day of Missile Forces and Artillery, which is celebrated in Russia each year on November 19.
We also pulled up an article on the Russian news site Russia Beyond, dated November 17, 2019, which mentions Russian citizens gathering to watch a rocket being launched from the Lushki Russian military base.
Conclusion: This video has nothing to do with the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is an old video filmed in Russia in 2019 during an exercise carried out in honour of the Day of Missile Forces and Artillery.
Article by Omar Tiss.