Fake News: Macron Did NOT Deploy Tanks to Tackle Yellow Vests in France

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Macron Did NOT Deploy Tanks to Tackle Yellow Vests in France

Did French President Macron deploy Army tanks to the streets of France to tackle the yellow vest protests? No, that's not true: he did order the deployment of army troops alongside regular security forces of the Gendarmerie but no tanks were deployed. The rumor seems to have originated with a single journalist that seemed to have some difficulty with the difference between a tank and an armored personnel carrier and between the French Army and the French Gendarmerie.

The story originated from an article published on March 23, 2019 by Express titled "Yellow Vest CHAOS: Desperate Emmanuel Macron deploys army tanks in terrifying scenes" (archived here) which opened:

YELLOW Vest protesters are facing a terrifying military crackdown after Emmanuel Macron deployed huge black tanks to the streets of Toulouse.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Yellow Vest CHAOS: Desperate Emmanuel Macron deploys army tanks in terrifying scenes

YELLOW Vest protesters are facing a terrifying military crackdown after Emmanuel Macron deployed huge black tanks to the streets of Toulouse.

There has indeed been some controversy in France about the deployment of Army troops to maintain security during the Yellow Vest protests:

Yellow Vest protests: Macron's 'risky' plan to put army on streets

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that soldiers will be deployed Saturday across the country to help maintain security during Yellow Vest protests. But the move has been met with fierce criticism. Authorities have vowed a 'zero tolerance' approach to this weekend's protests.

But a tank is a military combat vehicle that is heavily armed (usually with a big main gun and several smaller machine guns), covered with thick armor and moving on tracks.

The basis for the report about tanks appears to be a single tweet:

A French journalist tweeted a picture of the tanks with the caption: "Protesters are pushed back to the Canal du Midi."

This appears to be the tweet in question (archived here):

Translation: "Town center surrounded. Protesters driven back to the Canal du Midi".

The image clearly does not show tanks but armored personnel carriers on wheels (not tracks). It looks like they are of the type VXB-170 VBRG:

VXB-170 VBRG Berliet véhicule blindé à roues de Gendarmerie | Véhicules et blindés à roues France armée Army | France Equipements et blindés de l'armée française

VXB-170 VBRG véhicule blindé à roues fiche technique pictures vidéo Berliet Gendarmerie française France industrie de défense

These vehicles mainly serve as troop transports and are used both by the army (in limited numbers) and by the Gendarmerie Nationale:

National Gendarmerie - Wikipedia

The National Gendarmerie ( French: Gendarmerie nationale [ʒɑ̃daʁməʁi nasjɔnal]) is one of two national police forces of France, along with the National Police. It is a branch of the French Armed Forces placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior-with additional duties to the Ministry of Defense.

The blue color of the vehicles indicates they are operated by the Gendarmerie, here is a picture of a training excercise that shows them from a different angle:

GBGM5F Domenjod 160316

And even if they were operated by the army: they are not tanks.

We wrote about express.co.uk before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

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