These three videos have nothing to do with the clashes in Sudan
Fighting between the army and paramilitary forces has wracked Sudan since April 15, resulting in civilian casualties due to bombings, gunfire, and other forms of deadly violence. In the midst of this crisis, various social media posts are claiming to document events in Sudan using videos as evidence. However, some of these videos have been taken out of context, and may not accurately represent the situation on the ground.
If you only have a minute
- Since mid-April, posts shared on WhatsApp and Twitter in several languages are claiming to document the fighting in Sudan in photos and videos. Three videos in particular have gone viral.
- The FRANCE 24 Observers team examined these images, looking at visual clues and carrying out reverse image searches, to determine their real origins. Each of these three videos were taken out of context.
- One was filmed in Ethiopia in June 2022, during a documented massacre. The second is as old as August 2022, when it was first shared on social networks. And the third actually shows bombings in Yemen in June 2020.
The fact-check, in detail
The situation in Sudan is indeed dire, with the ongoing conflict exacerbating an already fragile healthcare system. The fighting between the Sudanese army and paramilitary forces has caused significant damage to hospitals and medical facilities, with many declared out of service. The violence has also resulted in numerous deaths and injuries, with the UN reporting at least 459 people killed and more than 4,000 wounded.
The violence is not limited to Khartoum and Darfur, with reports of clashes and violence in other parts of the country as well. The impact of the conflict on the civilian population, including access to basic necessities such as food, water, and medicine, is significant and ongoing.
>> Read more on The Observers: In Khartoum, corpses litter the streets: ‘The fighting keeps residents from burying them’
However, the following three videos – which have been shared widely online – have nothing to do with the current violence shaking Sudan.
A video shot in Ethiopia
On Friday, April 21, several readers sent us these extremely violent images, which have been circulating on WhatsApp groups in Kenya. They allegedly show members of the Sudanese army beating a dozen civilians to death.
In the video, which was viewed nearly 70,000 times on Twitter (warning, disturbing images), uniformed men whip people to the ground, beat them with sticks, kick them in the face and throw stones at them.
The person who posted the tweet describes himself as “America's most experienced combat correspondent” and said that a friend shared the video with him.
The FRANCE 24 Observers team has chosen not to publish the video in its entirety, due to its shocking nature.
However, this video was not taken in Sudan, but rather neighbouring Ethiopia. We determined this from a number of visual clues.
If you pause and zoom in on several frames of the image, you can clearly identify the brand of bottled water in the hand of one soldier. “One”, “natural purified water”, it reads.
The brand is owned by an Ethiopian company whose production site is based a few kilometres from the capital, Addis Ababa.
“The factory is located in the heart of Sebeta, South west of Addis Ababa. [...] having 6 production lines with a manufacturing capacity of 120,000 Bottles Per Hour (BPH),” the group's website states.
A second clue confirms that the scene is located in Ethiopia. In the video, a military uniform displays a flag with four colours: black, red, green and white. This is the flag of the Gambella region in southwest Ethiopia.
Finally, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, a national human rights institution attached to the federal government, investigated the deadly violence documented in the video.
In a report provided to the FRANCE 24 Observers team, it states that these "human rights violations" caused the death of "at least 50 civilians in the town of Gambella by regional security forces between June 14 and 16, 2022".
Helicopters filmed in 2022
Other images, posted in English on Twitter on April 15, the day the clashes in Sudan broke out, show several helicopters flying over Khartoum.
The caption accompanying the post, which has been viewed more than 400,000 times, reads: “Many military helicopters are actively flying in Sudan.”
The video is, however, several months old, according to a reverse image search conducted using the online software InVid WeVerify (click here to find out how).
Indeed, the images had already been posted on TikTok on August 14, 2022, long before the current tensions erupted. "Sudanese Air Force," the caption on the TikTok post reads, in Arabic.
The video was posted on the 68th anniversary of the Sudanese Armed Forces and could show a simple military parade, although no caption explicitly mentions this.
We have not been able to find the original video, but the same images were also posted on Facebook on November 24, 2022, by a page broadcasting photos and videos of the Sudanese Armed Forces.
A series of bombings filmed in Yemen
A video shared on Twitter on April 18, 2023 claims to show recent bombings in Sudan.
The video was posted by an account with more than 200,000 followers which describes itself as a relay for "Breaking news, reports, and opinions from ongoing clashes of the world".
However, this conflict footage was not filmed in Sudan, but in Yemen, in June 2020. A pink banner at the bottom right of the screen gives us a clue. It reads: "@Ana_Al_Fahad".
A keyword search helped us to find the original video posted on a YouTube channel of the same name. "Targeting Houthi leaders and operating rooms in Yemen," reads the caption of the post, which is dated June 2, 2020.
Although it’s not clear who is behind this YouTube channel, its bio includes a link back to a pro-Saudi Twitter account featuring the Saudi flag and a photograph of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia has been intervening militarily in Yemen since 2015 to support pro-government forces against the Houthis, Iranian-backed rebels who, in eight years of conflict, have seized large swathes of territory in the north and west of the country, the poorest on the Arabian Peninsula.