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AFP Fact Check: Is footage 'showing' General Qasem Soleimani's killing real or fake?

The video Twitter and Facebook users claim shows Soleimani's killing "in Iran" is from a 2015 video game preview.
Published Jan 09, 2020 05:55pm

A video has been viewed thousands of times in Facebook and Twitter posts that claim it is aerial footage of a US drone strike killing a top Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani "in Iran". The claim is false; the footage is actually from a military simulation video game; Soleimani was killed on January 3, 2020 by a US strike in Baghdad, Iraq.

The video was shared in this Facebook post on January 6, 2020. The one-minute and 40-second long clip appears to show military thermal imagery of a missile strike on a convoy.

The post’s caption reads: “American drone attack on Soleimani in Iran.”

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

The video has also been shared repeatedly on Facebook, for example here, here, here and here and on Twitter here and here.

But the claim is false; a reverse image search using keyframes from the video found that the footage is actually from a military simulation video game called AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron.

The footage was posted on YouTube here on May 25, 2015, on a video gaming channel Byte Conveyor Studios with a title: ‘AC-130 Gunship Simulator- Convoy Engagement’.

The caption of the YouTube video, which has over 5.8 million views, reads: “Development preview of our upcoming game for mobile platforms, ‘AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron’. Voted TOP 50 2014 App of the Year at SlideDB.”

Below are screenshot comparisons from the misleading video (L) and the video game footage from YouTube (R):

Another longer version of the video game footage was published on YouTube here on May 13, 2015.

Soleimani was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq — not in Iran as the misleading Facebook post claims. AFP’s report on the attack can be seen here.