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Viral interview does not show Iran official talking about missile attack in Pakistan

Video viral amid escalating tensions between Iran, Pakistan as China urges ‘restraint’

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Claim: A video shows a top military official of Iran confirming his country launched missiles at a terrorist group in Pakistan.

Fact: The video shows IRGC-AF Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh speaking about Iran’s strikes in Iraq and Syria, not Pakistan.

On 16 January 2024, X (formerly Twitter) user Mario Nawfal — @MarioNawfal — posted (archive) a video claiming to show an official of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who confirmed that they had launched missiles at a terrorist group in Pakistan.

Nawfal wrote, “🚨🇮🇷BREAKING: IRAN CONFIRMS MISSILE ATTACK ON TARGETS IN PAKISTAN. A spokesperson for the IRGC confirmed it launched medium-range ballistic missiles at the headquarters of the Jaish Al-Adl group in Pakistan”.

The IRGC is a branch of the Iranian armed forces but is “independent” of the country’s regular military, according to Britannica.

Pakistan-Iran tensions

Pakistan struck a “number of terrorists” in the Sistan-Baluchestan province of Iran during an operation named Marg Bar Sarmachar, the Foreign Office said (archive) on 18 January 2024

“Iranian media said several missiles hit a village in the Sistan-Baluchestan province that borders Pakistan, killing at least nine people, including four children,” according to Reuters (archive).

The publication quoted Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying he received information that the “four children, three women, and two men” who were killed were “foreign nationals”.

Pakistan used “killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions, and stand-off weapons” in the operation, according (archive) to its military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). “Hideouts used by terrorist organisations namely Balochistan Liberation Army [BLA] and Balochistan Liberation Front [BLF] were successfully struck,” the press release added.

On 17 January, China urged both Pakistan and Iran to “exercise restraint”, The Express Tribune reported (archive), citing foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning.

Prior to that, in the early hours of 16 January, Iran launched (archive) an attack in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, allegedly against members of Jaish al-Adl, or the Army of Justice, a terrorist group based in the Sistan-Baluchestan province.

Pakistan reacted strongly to Iran’s attack, terming it “unprovoked”, “illegal”, and “completely unacceptable”. It said (archive) the strike resulted in civilian casualties, including the “death of two innocent children” and three girls being injured.

Iran denied Pakistan’s claim, saying (archive), “We only targeted Iranian terrorists on the soil of Pakistan.”

Pakistan also recalled its ambassador from Iran, advised the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan “not [to] return for the time being”, and suspended all high-level visits, according to the Foreign Office (archive).

The Foreign Office “did not mention the location of the incident” but, according to the Iranian state media, “the attack took place in the border town of Panjgur in Balochistan”, Dawn reported (archive).

The strike came a day after Iran launched similar attacks (archive) in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh. Its rationale was that it went after the terrorists responsible for the 3 January 2024 twin bomb blasts — which left 84 people dead and were claimed (archive) by the IS — in the Iranian city of Kerman.

Four days after the exchange of strikes, the two countries decided (archive) to “de-escalate the situation”, with a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) — chaired by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar — concluding (archive) that Pakistan and Iran “would mutually be able to overcome minor irritants through dialogue and diplomacy and pave the way to further deepen their historic relations”.

The two countries’ respective ambassadors “may return to their respective posts by 26 January 2024”, a joint press release issued 22 January says.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check first identified and confirmed via Google Lens that the man being interviewed is IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh.

We used some keyframes from the viral video in reverse image search tools and found a link that led us to the website of IRIB News, also known as Seda va Sima, or the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. The news agency’s name also appears at the bottom of the clip in question.

Scrolling through their recent articles, we found one (archive) — titled “روایت سردار حاجی‌زاده از جزئیات حمله به مقر تروریست‌ها [Sardar Hajizadeh’s account of the details of the attack on the terrorist headquarters]” — that contains a cover image that appears to be a screenshot from the viral video.

The text accompanying the video reads,

“فرمانده نیروی هوافضای سپاه پاسداران در گفت‌و‌گوی اختصاصی با خبرگزاری صداوسیما به ذکر جزئیاتی از حمله موشکی سپاه پاسداران به مقر جاسوسان موساد در اربیل عراق و مقر تروریست‌های تکفیری در ادلب پرداخت.
[In an exclusive interview with Seda va Sima news agency, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force mentioned details of the Revolutionary Guards’ missile attack on the headquarters of Mossad spies in Erbil [in the Kurdistan region of] Iraq, and the headquarters of Takfiri terrorists in Idlib [in Syria].]”

Mossad is Israel’s national intelligence agency. Takfiri is a term (archive) that some extremist groups use to describe “those who may not agree with their ideology or refrain from pledging allegiance to them”.

We reached out to The Khorasan Diary (TKD) for assistance with translating IRGC-AF Commander Hajizadeh’s Farsi comments. According to TKD, the translated comments are as follows:

“In the recent weeks, we witnessed several crimes. The heartbreaking incident [bomb blasts] in Kerman was a crime committed by the ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or the IS] group, who witnessed the loss of our compatriots and killed them with dirt and blood.

“Well, someone must be responsible; in the eastern parts of Syria, in parts of the Atil area, the ISIS groups were attacked and, by the grace of God, we were able to capture a large number of them. And we also witnessed the operations of the Zionist regime in Syria, with the pressure of the war in Gaza, to kill two guards.

“After that, it [the enemy base] was located in Kurdistan in a building that looks like a villa and, after the [reconnaissance] operations, it is shown that it is a very strong building that was used both for espionage and special operations against Iran and other places. It was a point.

“In the last 100 days, these were the four points that were attacked by the special forces of Iran. And it was the fourth point that our loved ones attacked. The base was destroyed and some equipment came into our hands.”

The video also surfaced on Twitter one hour before @MarioNawfal posted it with a false caption. Tasnim News Agency (archive) and Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) (archive), uploaded it at 5:28 PM and 5:31 PM, respectively, on 16 January 2024, whereas Nawfal shared it at 6:27 PM.

Therefore, the claim that the video shows an IRGC official speaking about Iran’s strikes in Pakistan is false.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found the video posted here, here, here, here, here, and here on Facebook. It was shared as only a screenshot here, here, here, and here.

@MarioNawfal’s post — which has now been deleted — was viewed more than 427,100 times, as of the time of archiving. The videos shared here and here on X garnered upwards of 137,700 and 11,500 views, as of the time of writing. It was also uploaded here, here, and here.

Conclusion: The video in question shows IRGC-AF Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh speaking about Iran’s strikes in Iraq and Syria, and not Pakistan.


Background image in cover photo: mostafa meraji


To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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