Hours after the reports of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat’s chopper crash came in, several users posted a video of an Mi 17 bursting into flames mid air before circling down to the ground and disintegrating in the process. Newschecker has found the video to be from Syria and not related to the tragic incident involving the CDS that took place in Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.
One of the posts claiming to show Gen Bipin Rawat’s chopper crash, shared by Twitter user @_SirDonBradman_, has close to 400 retweets and around 1000 likes. Similar videos have been posted by other users on both twitter and Facebook.
On referring to the comment section of the video claiming to show Gen Bipin Rawat’s chopper crash, several users have called out the video as being fake. One of the users, @Patriot_005, shared the link of a tweet from February 2020, which had the same video.
The tweet claimed that it was a Syrian chopper and was shot down by Turkish backed militia in Idlib in Syria. The video also has audio, in which chants of ‘Allahu Akbar’ can be heard in the background.
Using this as a clue, Newschecker conducted a keyword search and found the same video in the YouTube channel of The Telegraph. The caption confirms that the video shows ‘a Syrian air force helicopter being downed by rebels in the area of Nayrab in eastern Idlib, using ground-to-air missiles thought to have been supplied by Turkey in recent days.’
A report by news agency AP revealed that both the pilots on board the helicopter lost their lives in the incident.
Thus we find that the widely shared video is not that of Gen Bipin Rawat’s chopper crash but that of a Syrian Mi 17.
A little after 6PM, the IAF tweeted that Gen Rawat and his wife Mrs Madhulika Rawat were among the 13 casualties in the accident. “With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident,” the Indian Air Force (IAF) tweeted.
Gen Rawat was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course. Reports revealed that the helicopter crashed shortly after it took off from the Air Force base in Sulur at 11.45 am, Coimbatore, for Wellington.
Thus, the media reports and the YouTube videos found by Newschecker confirms that the visuals circulating on social media claiming to show Gen Bipin Rawat’s chopper crash is from an earlier incident in Syria.