Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show Russian 'Retaliation Strike' On Secret NATO Bunker

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show Russian 'Retaliation Strike' On Secret NATO Bunker Syria≠Ukraine

Does a social media photo show the aftermath of Russian bombing of a NATO "secret underground bunker," possibly in Ukraine? No, that's not true: The image is a screenshot from a March 2021 video showing the aftermath of explosions at an oil depot that was being used by Turkey-backed opposition forces in northern Syria.

The claim appeared in a post on Twitter (archived here) published on March 30, 2023. It said:

🇷🇺 A blow to NATO;40 corpses, dozens more bodies remain under the rubble - details of the #Russian "retaliation strike" on the NATO command center have appeared

‼️A group of NATO officers and advisers was housed in a secret underground bunker built at a depth of 120 meters🩸

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

Tweet bombing.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Wed Apr 5 15:06:51 2023 UTC)

Another post on Twitter (archived here), using the same photo but published a few days earlier, claims a missile strike hit a NATO communications center in Ukraine. The tweet appears below:

second NATO bombing tweet Russia.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Wed Apr 5 16:56:12 2023 UTC)

The images in both social media posts come from a video showing the aftereffects of a March 5, 2021, strike on a Syrian oil facility. In a March 7, 2021, story with photos, The Associated Press reported:

A suspected missile strike on an oil-loading facility used by Turkey-backed opposition forces in northern Syria sparked a massive blaze across a large area where oil tankers are normally parked, aerial and satellite images show.

A video included in a social media post (archived here) on the day following the attack opens with the same image. You can see it below:

Original Syria tweet video.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Wed Apr 5 17:03:00 2023 UTC)

To watch the video, click on the play button in the following post:

Other Lead Stories fact checks about the war in Ukraine can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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